There once was a village called Alabama. There were many wonderful people who lived there. They were hard working, honest and full of faith. They lived in nice homes, tried to raise nice children and generally tried to be nice to each other.
The village of Alabama elected a representative from among them to take care of the village. This representative was, for the most part, just like the rest of the people in the village – hard working, honest and full of faith.
In the middle of the village of Alabama was an old house. The house served many purposes. During the day, the old structure housed most of the children from the village. It also provided shelter for the elderly of the village and the poor. It was the job of the representative to keep a check on the old house to make sure it was in good shape.
One day while the representative was checking the old house, he noticed that the roof beams were cracked and were about to fall. He looked around at the children and the elderly and the poor in the house and realized this was a desperate situation.
The representative called all the people in the village together for a meeting. “It looks like the old house is about to fall in,” he said. “What do you want me to do?”
Now, there were some wealthy people living in the village. They made a lot of money off the old house. They knew if the old house changed, they might not be able to make as much money. So they whispered in the representative’s ear, “Leave the old house the way it is, and we will make sure you are always re-elected.”
These same wealthy folks began to circulate among the other villagers. They told them, “If you let the representative fix up the old house, it will cost you more in taxes.” This distressed the villagers because they really did not like the idea of paying more taxes.
The wealthy villagers also said, “Does the old house really need improving? It has been just fine so far. Why should we change it now?” The people in the village thought hard about that. They really did not like the idea of change.
The wealthy folks also went to some religious leaders in the village of Alabama. They told them, “We need to trust God to take care of our old house. If we will display the Ten Commandments, God will keep the house from falling.”
Everyone in the village liked this idea. There would be no new taxes, there would be no unsettling change, and the community’s faith in God would be on display for all to see. The wealthy folks liked it most of all because the old house would be left just the way they wanted it.
Later that day, the representative went to the house and nailed a copy of the Ten Commandments on the wall. He cringed every time he hit the nail. He was afraid the walls of the old house might fall under the pressure of the pounding.
That night the people of the village threw a big party to celebrate the creative way they had all protected their own self-interest.
During the party, the house collapsed. And great was the fall thereof.
James L. Evans is pastor of Auburn First Baptist Church in Auburn, Ala.