It occurred a few nights ago, when Ted Koppel was interviewing Mark, the saint, Tom, the sinner, and Satan, on ABC's Nightline, that some interesting insights were revealed. Let’s join the story already in progress.
Ted Koppel reached for his cup of coffee, rolled his eyes upward, and repeated,” I meant what I said, Tom, and Satan, if you cannot conduct yourselves in a respectful manner, and not talk over each other, this interview will end immediately. Now, back to Tom” And with that, he turned toward the screen showing Tom, a well dressed, well spoken president of a well knonn shoe making company.
“Tom, would you tell the audience what it is about you that makes you so successful?”
Tom cleared his throat, paused, and then took up his narrative. “Well, Ted, you see, it really isn’t all that difficult to explain. I set my mind to do something, I make the plan, I work the plan, and I accomplish my goal. I am the master of my own destiny, so if I try hard enough, there isn’t anything I can’t do. I was raised to believe this, and it has served me well. If only more people could understand this, the world wouldn’t have so many destitute individuals.”
Ted replied, “I take it then, Tom, that you mean to imply that we are what we make of ourselves?”
Tom thought about that question momentarily, then responded, “Is there another reason for anyone’s success or failure? After all, who are you going to blame if you fail, GOD?” With a grin, he turned toward Mark, the saint, and snickered.
Now Ted swiveled over to Satan, who until this moment, had refused to answer any questions, save to use his opportunity to slander Mark or Tom according to his pleasure. “Satan?”
"What, Ted” was Satan’s retort.
“Do you have anything to add to this discussion?”
Satan looked directly into the camera, and spoke, “Ted, I hear this success story of Tom’s all of the time, and frankly, I say, poppycock! It’s bogus. The fact is, blind luck is responsible for his success, and he is a fool for not admitting it.”
Tom couldn’t keep still, “Now wait just one cotton-picking minute, you ass. I’ve had about enough of your …”
“Who’s the ass, You?” Satan cracked. “Or Mark over here, spouting off about how God is his ‘All in All’. It’s certainly not me, I only speak the truth as I see it, and I say, it’s luck. How would you know anyway? Have you ever roamed the earth like me? Have you ever seen the sun rise, and chased it until it went down? I can do it all in a single day, and not even be tired. Let’s see you try that, Mr. It’s All About My Plan. Bah!!! Garbage!!” spat Satan.
There were a few seconds of silence, and finally, Ted turned toward Mark, and asked, “Well, any defense or counter for Satan?”
Mark responded, “Satan is what God made him to be. Frankly, I pity him, but that’s neither here nor there. The truth is, some of what Tom is saying is true, however, I would caution that man is not in control of his own destiny. If you ask me whether a man can succeed with enough effort given a certain set of circumstances, I’d say, yes. But I’d also say that the circumstances which allowed his success were not of his choosing, and thus, his success depends far more on circumstance than on any real effort.”
“The man...is on…CRACK!.” Tom shouted somewhere out of sight.
Satan snorted, and said, “Pity me? Job once pitied me, too, Marky boy. Maybe I should test you, as well?”
Mark said nothing, and quickly, Ted asked His last question.
“Tom, tell us whether you think you’ll be in heaven one day, and why.”
Tom was mulling this over when Satan cut him off, “Tom ....in heaven?” With that, he started laughing uncontrollably, and his microphone was faded to hide the offensiveness of his laughter.
Recovering, Tom answered, condescendingly, “Ted, none of us really knows if we’ll be in heaven or not. After all, only God can be that judge. But if you must have an answer….”
"We must” Ted stated, sounding as though he regretted the fact.
“Then I’ll give you one. I know, I’m not perfect, but……..I think I’m pretty good. And…at the end of the day, that ought to be good enough. Yeah, I think I’ll be in heaven.”
When Ted returned to Satan to query him, all that could be heard was a renewal of Satan’s offensive laughter, so Ted chuckled, “Whenever you can catch your breath, Satan, feel free to give your response.”
Satan laughed for another twenty seconds, before composing himself. He stared into the cameras once again, with eyes that seemed to burn through the lens. “Ted, I’m not perfect, but….I think I’m pretty good. Yeah, I’ll be there, because that should be good enough.” Then, without warning, he stood, and proclaimed, “Behold!!!! I stand at the door and knock!! And if anyone is brave enough to answer, I’ll come in. But if the door is not opened, I’ll break in!” With that, he walked off, out of sight of the cameras.
Tom shot back with incredulity, "Satan, pretty good?!! Hah!!!"
"Watch it Tom! I can make your life ..........hell" The audience heard Satan chuckle.
“Well!, Sniffed Ted, in apparent indignation. “We won’t be asking him back!”
Off camera, Satan replied, “I’ll come back when I want, and you’ll like it, Ted. Remember, I made you!! I think you’ll have me back when I say you’ll have me back!”
Ted was now distraught, but quickly collected his poise, and turned toward Mark. “Mark, thank you very much for your respectfulness here tonight, It is for that reason, and that reason alone….that I leave you now with the last word.”
Mark looked into the camera lens as well, and smiled as he gave his reply, “Ted, the answer is yes, I’ll be in heaven. But not because I was pretty good, or even really good. The only reason I’ll be there is because of Jesus, because of what He did for me on that cross.”
Mark smiled at this, for he knew Ted would try to put a different spin on his answer, "No Ted, I was merely stating the facts. What I am as a person only Christ knows, for He is in me, and all things are known by Him. But, if you must assume anything, then I won't stop you. Feel free to embellish."
“Hey Mark!!” Tom shouted, “Can you SEE Jesus? I mean, can you see Him now? Is he like, floating above us ….?”
Now it was Tom’s turn to laugh, and laugh he did, right on through Ted Koppel’s closing statement, which went something like this;
“What we have witnessed here tonight, folks, is three very different points of view. I remind you, the viewing audience, that ABC neither condones any comments made here, nor are any of these comments necessarily the viewpoint of ABC. “
Satan again interrupted somewhere off-screen, “Yeah, that’s right. I’LL tell you what your view point is, Teddy boy.”
“No, I don’t think you will, Satan.” Ted replied. “Three very differing viewpoints, and none of them necessarily the truth. With that being said, I’ll leave you, the viewing audience, to decide for yourselves what to believe. After all, we are all able to agree on this, no one should force their viewpoints on another human being. With that, from all of us at ABC, Good night.”
"So Ted, we all know who Satan was here," Tom said off camera, "but tell us, who's the saint? Me, right?"
"You are what you make of yourself, Tom" was all the viewing audience heard Ted Koppel say. With that, ABC went to commercial break.
Well, if that had really happened, we’d all know a great deal more about Satan, wouldn’t we? Or would we?