Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Price is Right

Have you forgotten the Lord who made you, who stretched out the skies and made the earth? Why are you always afraid of those angry people who trouble you and who want to destroy? But where are those angry people now?

-- Isaiah 51:13

What was your first job? Maybe you delivered newspapers every day at 5:00 AM, flipped hamburgers at McDonald's or stocked shelves at Walmart. Odds are that it probably didn't come with a plush corner office or stock options. Instead, the hours were long, you worked nights and weekends, and the pay was meager at best.

And if you were like millions of other teenagers, you stayed on the job - whether you liked it or not - because you had your eye on the proverbial prize. Maybe that so-called prize was your first car.

It was nice enough if your parents let you drive their 10-year-old Ford or Chevy around town or to the mall. But buying your own car with your own money was in a different league altogether. You were working to earn enough money to drive it off the lot, make the monthly payments, pay the insurance premium and fill up the tank. Your bank account was almost always empty by month's end. But you didn't care; your first automobile was worth every penny because you found it. And you paid the price.

Maybe God never drove a '65 Mustang convertible or a late '80s Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z. But He certainly knows about giving up everything to buy that one-of-a-kind treasure. And in His case, that priceless treasure is YOU!

God - the most powerful and loving Presence in the universe - bought you at an incredibly expensive price: the life of His Son, Jesus. Since we could never pay the price that we rightfully owe for all the bad decisions, broken relationships and damage we've wrought throughout our lives, Jesus paid it Himself by dying in our place on a cross between two common criminals. Jesus didn't deserve to be there. But God loved us so much that He was willing to pay an incredible price for us to be with Him forever.

That news is amazing enough. But God wants you to be more than as some sort of honored houseguest (although that would still be quite nice). Instead, He has literally chosen you as His heir. That means that once you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you become an adopted son or daughter of God. And as God's children and heirs, we'll all have quite an inheritance to enjoy for eternity.

Such generosity is hard to comprehend. Jesus explained God's attitude in a way that was readily recognizable to citizens of agrarian 1st Century Israel and to suburbanites in 21st Century America:

"If any of you has 100 sheep, and one of them gets lost, what will you do? Won't you leave the 99 in the field and go look for the lost sheep until you find it," He asked His followers. "And when you find it, you will be so glad that you will put it on your shoulder and carry it home. Then you will call in your friends and neighbors and say, 'Let's celebrate! I've found my lost sheep.'"

God is willing to do whatever it takes to bring you and me home. In fact, He already paid that hefty price nearly 2,000 years ago through the death of His Son, Jesus. It's a price we never can pay back. The only thing that's left for us is to accept His precious gift.

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