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Salvation Isn’t Free

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REFLECTING ON THE CROSS

This week is a great time for us to focus our lives on the most central event in our Christian faith – the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Too often, we get sidelined and sidetracked by different things going on around us and in our churches. This is a chance to remember what we believe and why. Each day this week, I will be posting about a different truth relating to the Passion week.


Back in December, I was plugging away in my office when I received a disturbing news alert from CNN that shots had been fired in an elementary school in Connecticut. I immediately went on CNN’s website and began watching live coverage from my computer. Thinking there was no way that someone would be so heinous as to go into an elementary school and open fire, I was waiting and hoping to hear that it had only been a minor scuffle in the main office. Like everyone else watching that Friday, I was shocked to hear that a man (if you can call him that), barely younger than me, had walked in with an automatic weapon and sprayed bullets into a kindergarten classroom.

I spent the rest of the day glued to the television, unable to even think about anything else. When I got home that night, like most parents did with their children, I gave Caleb a giant hug as he tried squirming away to play with his toys. While I’ve lived to see quite a few mass shootings take place around the nation, this one hit home in a fresh way. Aside from it being in an elementary school with innocent children, it was the first one to take place since I had become a Dad.

As news agencies began describing the scene in the nearby firehouse as parents found out their children wouldn’t be coming home, I sat in a state of shock in front of my television. I couldn’t imagine having to walk into Caleb’s elementary school to identify his body before returning home to his Christmas presents under the tree. I can’t imagine the devastation of knowing I’d never hear his sweet voice again or watch him smile at me from his playroom. I honestly wonder if I could even physically survive such a tragic experience.

I especially can’t imagine the anger those parents must still be feeling today. Beyond the outrage of knowing my child was gunned down, I would have been just as angry to learn that the shooter was so cowardly as to kill himself afterward. I wouldn’t have wanted him dead because it would deny me the chance of torturing him beyond his ability to comprehend it. I’m definitely not a violent person but it goes without saying that no one harms my son, especially not some coward with his mom’s gun.

I struggle to even comprehend how God could allow his own Son to enter the brokenness of our world, fully knowing that he would be beaten within an inch of his life, humiliated, and crucified by the very people he came to save. Even harder to understand is the fact that God allowed it to happen so that the very people killing his Son could be saved by his death.

God allowed this to happen for you and me, the most treasured of his creation who rebelled to become his enemies. While we may not have been the ones driving the nails into his hands, we are no less complicit in his death. Yet God considered us worthy of such a sacrifice.

We are so used to the “God next door” mentality that we forget the most logical and understandable response by God to our sin is complete and total wrath. We deserved wrath when humanity turned against him, we deserved it again when we killed his Son, and we still deserve it now. But God’s response was one of loving mercy with each new progression of the story.

I say all of this to make one point – our salvation isn’t free. It’s a gift but it came with a cost. It’s not fire insurance that keeps us from hell and it isn’t a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for when we really don’t feel like following him. It’s not a sinner’s prayer that keeps us from God’s wrath so we can do whatever pleases us. The only response to this loving, scandalous act of our Creator is reverence, awe, and complete surrender of our lives to his grace and will. Anything less is an empty game that belittles a loving Father’s sacrifice of his Son.

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