What would you say to someone who offered to pay off your debts, your loans or credit card bills or even your mortgage? No catch, no ulterior motive just an offer simply to pay off everything you owe and free you from the constraints and ties of owing something to others?
Most of us I suspect would leap at the chance to be debt free, especially given our current economic woes. We could all do with the freedom from debt such a offer would give. The pipe dream of being debt free is, I suspect why many people continue to play the lottery each week, no matter how poor the odds, the hope against hope that it just ‘might be you’ is worth the gamble for many people.
If this wondrous act of giving were to occur in your life, I wonder how it would change you, how it would affect the way you lived the rest of your life. Would you act more generously to others. Would you act more graciously to those you encountered who were poorer and had less opportunities because of it. Would you be more forgiving of those whose debts gave them less options in life?
Jesus told a parable of two servents who owed money:
“The Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt. “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
“His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
From Matthew 18 (New Living Translation)
The thing with acts of grace is that they demand a change in our behaviour, not out of duty or legalism, but because it is something so big, it cannot help but affect the way we act, the way we interact with the world.
The debt the Jesus pays for us on the cross is not a financial one. It is a gift of freely given love and it pays the debts that our lifestyles have accrued. Most of us know deep down that, despite wanting to think best of ourselves, we do not always live lives of virtue. The things we do in this world affect others, the actions we make can cause hurt and upset. We don’t exist in a vacuum, our lives effect the lives of others, sometimes for good and sometimes for bad.
Jesus’ gift to us is to wipe clean the slate of our lives. When Christians talk of being born again, it’s this idea that Jesus’ gift to us has reset the clock. Our lives up to now no longer count against us, and though we will continue to mess up the way we live, we have Jesus’ promise of forgiveness to hold on to and to really change us. It is the ‘New Life’ of Easter.
This new life is one we are all invited to share in. I’m sure we’ll all agree it’s a great picture but for it to mean anything to us it first has to mean something for us personally, as individuals, and that requires a step of faith.
Faith is a strange thing, if you have it you can’t imagine living without it, if you don’t it seems like nonsense.
I know the good news of the gospel to be true, I know it because of my experience of God working in my life and because of the witness of others. But it still took a step of faith for me to trust in God and to decide to live my life in response to the gift of freedom he bought me.
This Easter season, we are reminded of the great gift of love that Jesus gives us all through his death and resurrection. Its a gift we have to respond to in order to enjoy. Just like saying yes to a mysterious benefactor, we must say yes to his message of good news if we want part of it.
This Easter are you ready for the step of faith a ‘Yes’ requires?
Have a very blessed and Peaceful Easter.