There is a big difference between a gift and a loan. A gift is yours to keep – no strings attached. Repayment is neither required nor expected. A loan, on the other hand, puts a person into debt, and comes with obligations.
Understanding this changes how I relate to God, and negates a lot of things I’ve been taught about religion.
If I approach God as someone to whom I owe a debt, then I will move toward – or away from – Him depending on how well I think I am holding up my end of the deal. When I’ve done everything I “ought” to do, then I feel free to contact Him.
However, if I am not doing the things I “ought,” then I want to hide from Him. If I hear His voice, I treat it like my phone when a payment is overdue – and tune out its ring. I don’t check the mail because of what might be there. I feel awkward around Him and guilty because I “owe” and have not “paid.” (In other words, I don’t want to pray and I don’t want to read my Bible.)
What freedom there is in realizing that everything I have is a gift from Him. I’m not on any “time payment” program with Him. No matter what I do, I am not incurring charges to my account. Colossians 2 says that He wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, Chapter 1 says that by Jesus God reconciled all things to Himself. “Reconcile” is an accounting term. My account has been reconciled. (BTW – I wasn’t even alive back then. He cleared my account before I ever even had one.)
Does this mean that I can go out and live like hell? NO! When I grasp what He has done, why on earth would I want to?
The purpose in the death of Christ was to restore our relationship with the Father – like it was in the Garden of Eden, and like Jesus had when He lived here. God now calls us friends. I don’t intentionally do things that I know will hurt or offend my friends.
Anything that was “owed” to God was settled when Jesus called out Tetelestai – which is translated, Paid in Full!
We need to quit trying to make payments on a debt that’s been reconciled!
From God’s viewpoint, I owe Him nothing. He’s no longer the CEO of the bank who holds my mortgage – someone with whom I would not presume that I could chum around with. He’s my Father – my Friend. There’s nothing between us. I’m not obligated to do anything in order to pay Him back.
But I know how great a debt He paid on my behalf. I will never face the Collector. For that I am truly thankful, and so it is because of gratitude – and not obligation – that I spend time with Him, serve Him, and introduce Him to everyone I meet.
With God, it’s not about the debt; it’s about the relationship He longs to have with each one of us.
Jesus’ payment on the cross was on behalf of all humanity. He offers it as a gift. We can choose to accept His payment – or reject it. There is no other “payment plan” available to us. After all, what do we have that we have not first received from Him?
Go forth today free of the bondage of debt to God! No need to hide. Jesus paid it all.
Lord, I realize that I’ve been treating You like my creditor – interacting with You when I believe my account is current, and hiding from You when I think I’m behind on my payments. Thank You for transforming me by renewing my mind and showing me something new about You.
In addition, help me to extend this kind of relationship to those around me. Teach me to see no man as my debtor, but as a friend; to love them the way You love me…unconditionally.
In Jesus’ Name – AMEN!