Free: Our New Watchword and Song

Lately, it seems like the big push (seemingly led by politicians) is for free stuff. We want free healthcare, free education, free trade, free birth control, and free love (just to name a few). I have to say, I like free stuff also. It’s always great when someone else foots the bill.

But that, of course, is the problem. As has been said many times, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Someone somewhere will eventually have to pay the bill. It’s simply a fact of life.

Sometimes, however, it seems like we don’t really care about that. As long as we don’t have to pay, we’re good with it. We blind ourselves to the fact that some poor soul (or many poor souls) will have to pony up for us.

How Free is Free?

Occasionally, we salve our consciences with the hope that the payees will be wealthy beyond compare and won’t miss the funds they have to lay out. If it won’t put a dent in their chump change, we relish the idea. But mostly, we don’t really care one way or the other. Free is free…supposedly… As long as it’s not coming out of our pocket, we’re down with it.

I suppose blinding ourselves to reality is one way to get numb enough to feign happiness (at least in the short run). Unfortunately, the piper will have to be paid someday. Sooner or later, all this free stuff is going to come back around to bite us in our collective derrieres.

The only thing in life that I’ve discovered to be truly free is the grace of God. It’s a good thing, too. If we got charged for it, we could never afford it. We could never work off the debt, sacrifice enough, or scratch and claw our way to the break-even point. It’s just too great of an asset.

Even Grace Isn’t Free

Truth be told, that grace is not really free either. It’s free to us, but only because someone else has already paid the debt. That someone is Jesus.

Scripture is really clear about all this. The Apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans that we have all sinned and fallen short. He explains that Jesus came to be the sacrifice of atonement for those sins. Because God is just, someone had to pay the bill for what we have done (and have failed to do).

He said, as I alluded to earlier, we cannot come up with the capital to pay our own debt to God. Jesus came to pick up the tab. Our response is one of gratitude and the faith to follow him wherever he leads. It’s not always easy, but (as I see it) it’s the least I can do. The payment of my debt far outweighs any act of kindness or obedience I could ever render.

So, maybe we should change our tune. Nothing is free, but it’s great to have a benefactor. That’s especially true when our benefactor is Almighty God.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]

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