George Bowers Sr.: The benefactor on the second floor
Many years ago a man came into enormous wealth. No one was ever quite sure where it came from, but his net worth seemed infinite. With part of his money he purchased several square miles and built a huge two-story castle that sprawled over several acres.
He constructed the first floor much like a grand hotel made up of hundreds of suites complete with bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and living rooms, all fully furnished. Because most of the surrounding peasants had fallen on hard times, he opened his home and invited them to move into his first story apartments, which many gladly did.
The tenants were amazed at the creativity of the owner who incorporated his tastes throughout the entire structure. Though similar, each unit was slightly different. The new residents were very grateful for his generosity and hospitality and they constantly thanked and honored him. Even though he seldom visited, he was never far away as he occupied his quarters in the upper story.
He also gave the residents free run of the grounds, which included endless opportunities for recreation, enjoyment, and reflection. Exquisite gardens, forests, lakes, and rivers blanketed his property. He employed those who lived in his home to care for his estate. Each had an assigned task and all were well compensated for their work. In their spare time, he encouraged them to garden, build, sing, cook, write, paint, and invent.
Through various messengers he also introduced expectations and rules to ensure good relations between tenants, and to protect his property. The residents were happy for the security these boundaries provided and readily recognized his wisdom and foresight.
Initially, all went well and the occupants were very happy and maintained good relations with their landlord. Many used their creativity to write, sing, and paint his praises in various works.
In time, however, things began to change. Some residents started to take their homes, jobs, and freedoms for granted. They even began to murmur against their benefactor. Instead of caring for his property, they began to abuse and trash his gardens and paint his house colors he despised. They ignored the rules he had implemented believing them to be too restrictive and that he only wanted to keep them under his thumb.
Many of the artists used the owner’s canvases, paints, and brushes to paint beautiful masterpieces of his home and property that completely left him out. Some even created works that insulted and reviled him and openly celebrated behaviors that violated his protective rules. The same happened in literature as the authors he housed, fed, clothed, and loved wrote novels that denied, omitted, and disrespected him.
The musicians liked their own sounds so much that they forgot he had built their auditorium and supplied their instruments. They used to perform knowing full well that he could hear their music upstairs and they played to please his ear, but now many of them composed and sang songs that directly opposed his ideas and principles. Soon the books, music, movies and lives of the once-poor, now-rich, peasants lacked any mention of their generous benefactor as all of their lives now centered around themselves.
Some even began to float rumors that their benefactor had died since they hadn’t seen him in a while. Others said he had never existed in the first place and that their home had just come together gradually, by chance, over many years.
Since they didn’t believe there had ever been a landlord, they didn’t follow any of his rules. Some residents began to fight with each other and soon there were injuries and even deaths from their quarrels. They stole from each other and envied what they could not steal. Their behavior went from bad to worse and the residents had to spend inordinate amounts to pay for patrol officers, door locks, and jails.
At one point, their patron sent his son downstairs to show them how much he really loved and cared about them and to try to straighten things out, but they actually hung him on one of his own trees in his own garden.
One would think that the residents would have been so grateful and appreciative that they would have honored their benefactor in every way they knew. One would think they would have respected and obeyed his rules. One would think. But since they didn’t, one would have to ponder how the owner now felt and what he might do next. What would you do? Pondering, George
George Bowers Sr. is the senior pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored nine books including his latest, “Valley Verses, Volume III.” He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at email@example.com.