Monday, August 27, 2012

Get Out of Jail Free

If you've never played Monopoly, you probably don't recognize the value of this card.  As you are making your way around the board, buying properties, building hotels and forming monopolies, occasionally you get in trouble with the law and are sent to jail.  There you have to sit for three turns, as your competitors continue to buy and sell.  It puts a stop to your game and puts you in a difficult position.

That's what jail is for, right?  To put a stop to life, to get your attention and make you sober up about the choices you make.  Now, I know that making a comparison to hell and jail is not really comparing apples with apples, but I want you to hear me out.

Why do believers live like they have a "get out of jail free" card?  You see, when you have that card, there are no consequences to being arrested - you just plop the card down and move on with your turn. So Christians, knowing that the price for their sin has been paid for, can, in effect, plop down their "get out of hell free" card and move on with their life after they sin, right?  Isn't that what the freeing grace of salvation is all about?  And the cool thing is, when they play their card, they don't have to give it up - it has unending usage rights!  What a great gig!

Let's turn this back to a jail analogy, just in case you aren't hanging with me - what if a judge gave a murderer a lifetime "get out of jail free" card?  It didn't matter how often he killed someone, he would never have to be held accountable for that action.  He could just pull the laminated card from his wallet, flash it to the cops and walk away.  Would this be a deterrent to his criminal behavior or an encouragement?

Kind of a ridiculous analogy - doesn't everything in your soul cry out, "Foul!"?  It just doesn't seem right to give a murderer a card like that - especially if he's not repentant or changed at all by the mercy that has been offered to him.

And therein lies the truth - are we at all changed by the mercy that is offered to us? It is true that we have a "get out of hell" card, but it wasn't free.  Jesus paid for it.  That being said, if we never examine the punishment we deserved, then we will not be changed by the mercy extended to us.  And if we continue to sin freely, then we haven't truly died to sin and are alive to God.

  • the husband who cannot say a kind word to his wife, but continues to neglect her rather than love her as Christ loved the church
  • the wife who refuses to submit, but battles to usurp authority from her husband
  • the woman who allows anxiety and fear to grip her so tightly that it paralyzes her and restrains her from sharing the gospel with those around her
  • the father who disciplines out of anger and hates how he feels, but makes no change
  • the mother who is too tired to say no and sees her child heading down a path of destruction, but just can't seem to find the energy to change the tide in her house
  • the friend who can't stop sharing a juicy story that makes her look good and makes her friends look stupid
  • the congregant who finds fault in every service
  • the person who continues to steal from their employer, intending to repay but never able to make ends meet
  • the child of God who can't find the time to read the Father's Word, or pray, or memorize, or study because life is too busy, the Word is too hard to understand, their life is too difficult to navigate or they just don't know how to do it
Is being a follower of Jesus all about punishment avoidance or is it about restoring the relationship between the Creator and the created to its intended place?  Yes, Jesus paid for our punishment, but a life that is not evidenced by change - repentance, spiritual fruit and enduring faith - this is a life that is possibly just playing with religion and thinking that the card in its wallet will work at the pearly gates, when in fact it will pass away with every other earthly possession.  

Just in case you still aren't tracking with me, grab your Bible and read Romans 6:1-14.  It should clarify things for you.

Go ahead - go read it...

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