I hate buying cell phones.
Well, I hate buying any tech, really, but cell phones especially. I hate spending money on something that will become essentially useless in two years. If I spend over $100 on anything I want to bequeath it to my ancestors. I want the family to gather around the Christmas table and pull out great-great-grandma Erin’s antique Galaxy S7 they usually display in their curio cabinet and reminisce about a simpler time.
At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, why don’t they make things like they used to? It bothers me that we have built into our lives this rhythm of tossing costly things aside. I notice it most in fashion and tech. There’s an understanding that in a year or two, or as soon as next season, what you have now will be out of style and out of date. We are expected to throw our money at it and then throw it away. This is partly why I have hoarder-like tendencies. I’ll go to toss something out and there’s this tug, “But this cost me something…I gave something up to bring this into my life and now I’m stuffing it into a giant black bag…” It feels wrong, like I should never have bought those things in the first place.
I think this rhythm of cheapening the objects that surround us has led to us cheapening much more important things. Things like grace.
Yes, grace is a gift freely given to us. Grace is not based on anything we bring to the table. We can grab hold of grace, die right now, and be eternally in His presence never having done one other holy thing.
When I think about grace, I always think of the thief hanging on the cross next to Jesus who says, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus answers, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43) Today. Just like that. No other fancy prayers or ceremonies or good works needed. He just had to ask.
It was free to the thief, but it was very expensive for Jesus. And He didn’t pay this price for grace just for grace’s sake. He paid it for us. He thought, “What is it worth to me to have these people in my house?” And He decided on crucifixion and resurrection.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “You are not your own. You have been bought at a price.” We have been purchased and the price was steep. But we often live like it cost nothing at all. We make choices every day that devalue the price Christ paid for us. Maybe we say thank you for that ticket to heaven, for that washing of sins, but it’s just an assurance that we’re on the the right team, we bought the right ticket. We bank it for later but don’t utilize it in our day to day.
What would it look like if we lived everyday like we understood what grace cost Him and what it bought us? What if I lived in agreement with that costly grace? What if I treated my own life like something precious, enduring, expensive? What if I set about creating rhythms that honored the fact that I am meant for eternity? What would I take in and what would I let out?
First, I think we’d pray more and spend more time in His word.
If we really understood the value of this access we now have because the sin that separates us from the Holy of Holies has been rendered null and void, we would march to that throne in boldness. We would sit at His feet, bury our heads in His lap, tell Him how much we love Him, and drink up every word He gave back. We wouldn’t feel stupid. We wouldn’t feel timid. We would sit right down in the place He bought for us and know it is exactly where we belong.
I also think we would strive less and agree more.
Jesus’ sacrifice made us fit to stand before Him unashamed. If we really believed that was true, would we ever feel ashamed to stand before anyone else? Would we let fear of someone else’s judgment have sway over our lives? Or would we agree with who God says we are and stop trying so dang hard? God is not a liar (Numbers 23:19), so when He calls us daughters and sons, when He says He created us in His image, when He says He has raised us up and seated us with Him in the heavens in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6) we need to agree with Him.
If I agree with Him that I am His workmanship, created for good works that He has prepared ahead of time for me to do (Ephesians 2:10), how does that impact how I spend my time? Do I choose to hide from problems or people? Do I numb with Netflix or substances or relationships? Do I devalue this miracle of a body God has given me with poor nutrition, lack of movement, or by how I let other people see and use it? And in doing so demonstrate that Jesus is not my comfort and my strength?
Or do I grab hold of His grace, agree with what He says about Himself and about me, and make choices about my day knowing that nothing that happens can change His mind about me but that every action I make in agreement with Him is transformative. I will make choices that agree that Jesus is enough for me, He is everything He says He is, and I am everything He says I am.
Finally, I think we would share that grace with joy and abandon.
For one, I can’t agree that I am fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image and not believe the same for everyone else. I can’t believe that with the high price Jesus paid there’s not enough to go around. You don’t buy dinner for your family and never even bother to tell half of them it’s time to eat. To not invite others into the grace you have received is wasteful. Let’s test the limits of how many people we can fit at God’s table. Extend the invitation as extravagantly as it has been extended to you and just see if He doesn’t have room for us all.
When God set out to buy us back, He was not shopping for deals. He did not take shortcuts. He did not settle for the off-brand version of His ideal. We are created to be top-of-the-line. We were created to be like Him and near Him. We were built to last. We were built for eternity and it broke our Maker’s heart to see us cast aside and living in darkness. Our sin separated us from God, but we were bought back at a high, high price.
Grace was not cheap so let’s live like we agree with the high price placed on us.