Hymn: “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me” – Augustus M. Toplady (1740-1778)
The last few weeks I’ve watched on television stories of lesser-fortunate parents standing in line to receive free school supplies and required vaccinations for their children. After some great disaster hits (natural or otherwise), we have observed long lines of displaced individuals awaiting food, clothing and necessities. I remember driving past city missions with homeless men cued up for blocks anticipating the opening of the doors so they could get in from the cold for a good hot meal and a warm place to spend the night.
In every one of these cases, as the line moves forward and the people receive that for which they have come to these places, no one is standing at the end of the line expecting to be paid. No paperwork may even be required; they are simply provided with what they came for.
This is how you and I have been graced by God. When we have arrived at the serving table, we may have made some vain attempt to pay for the bundle he has prepared for us, but he gladly hands us his great salvation. We fumble for our wallet; he grabs our hand and says, “No charge.”
Somehow we are not comfortable with the free gift of salvation; we WANT to pay for it ourselves; we don’t want a hand-out; we NEED to work for it or pay it off a little at a time. In our protesting, God may be a bit offended because he’s trying his best to give us a free gift, and we insist on making some kind of payment.
In that long line of sinners poor and needy, you and I have arrived face to face with the One in charge of distribution. With no price in hand, we accept the free gifts of God’s grace simply because the cross stands bare, the tomb stands empty, the throne stands occupied. Love’s redeeming work is done. We move aside as another weary soul comes to the front of the line; without personal payment, they too walk away with what they have come for.
Know somebody who needs to be in that line? Do they need someone to stand with them? Are they confused about the no-payment-necessary part of the transaction? Help them understand. Tell them how it works. Joy with them when they receive what they come seeking.
Put your wallet away. Stop trying to figure out a long-term payoff plan. Even if you try, you can’t afford it. Jesus paid it all. Now move out of the way and let somebody else enjoy the same blessing.