What do you do with your debt?

A pastor for Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC told a story that connected with many listeners who held advanced degrees.  As the story goes, a man owed $150,000 in college loans.  ‘Out of nowhere’ appeared an anonymous benefactor who paid it off in one fell swoop!!  That good news has been part of this man’s story ever since.

I actually have a friend who experienced a similar blessing.  While working as a librarian and going to school part-time to earn a bachelors’ degree, Joanne took an interest in one of the library patrons.  She would greet him by name, ask about his life and help him.  One day he handed her a check and paid off all her college loans!  The man whom she thought was ‘down & out’ dressed shabbily because he was thrifty by choice!   His unexpected gift is now part of Joanne’s story.

We are often taken back by über-generosity.  But if we’re Christians, why do we act so blasé about what God has done for us, in cancelling our ‘GI-NOR-MOUS’ debt? 

I was reading a helpful explanation of why our sin deserves death. We have committed 2 capital crimes:

  • blashphemy – we have usurped God who deserves our worship and proclaimed, “No – I’m my own God/ final authority in my life!”
  •  treason – we have been disloyal to this King and disobeyed his rules, ‘kinda’ like Snowden who gave away state secrets.

Since GUILTY is the correct assessment of our crimes and as much as we deserve the automatic sentence death, we should be stunned by the mercy offered.

And lest you complain that God is UNFAIR to treat us so well, punishment is meted out and served by our divine substitute.  On top of that, our bank account of righteous deeds IS filled to the brim; we come to God with a record of ‘perfection’.

Why ‘perfection’?  Because that is the only standard that gets you in the door of heaven.  Removal of guilt + a perfect record of righteous deeds are the requirements for entry in God’s presence.  We get both if we accept Jesus’ mind-boggling offer to act as our sin-bearer-away and also our righteous-deed proxy.

But then what? What is so good about:

  • Forgiveness
  • Sufficient saving faith
  • Justification
  • Eternal life with God and not separation?

I realize now that we stop short.  We think that they are the end in themselves.

Pastor John Piper offered a new thought this morning.  He said that the ultimate good news is that BECAUSE of forgiveness and justification, we get to be face-to-face with God, in His presence. His presence will be the source of joy and delight.

Physical pleasures like sex and food and reading and massage are one dimensional.  The pleasures we will be capable of experiencing when we can see God face to face are categorically different.

Think of what God says via the psalmists:

  • Psalm 16:11 ….In your presence is fullness of joy, at your right side are pleasures ever more.
  • Psalm 36:8  …You let them drink from your river of delights.   
  • Psalm 37:4 ….the Lord will give you the desires of your heart.

I can’t end this rumination without mentioning the classic quote CS Lewis:

“It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak.  We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.  We are far too easily pleased.” (The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses)

And PS:  why not brag about that big debt that SomeOne paid off for you!!