On a Christian radio station trying to raise money, my wife heard something a bit unsettling. The emphasis was on the blessing of giving. Certainly giving is a grace of God, and it is also a blessing for the one giving. There is joy in giving, and God gives that joy, and He loves a cheerful giver (II Cor 9:7).
But the emphasis seemed to be placed (I didn’t actually hear it myself) on what you get back when you give. Now I could spend much more time on this, but the ‘advice’ from a DJ took a different turn. If we give, we get back something in return that is of great value. For example, look at God. He gave Jesus and He got ‘us’ out of it.
In case you don’t know by now, you can argue with most things people say, and often find out that the real problem is either semantic, or the fact that the person cannot say everything-and is merely trying to something specific and apropos to the situation. For instance Paul wrote Corinthians and Galatians to different audiences, with two different emphases: one has more emphasis on justification, the other on living consistently with our justification. Its the same gospel applied to different problems in different churches. We can’t say to Paul, “This is true, but you left out this part.” No, he said what needed to be said to that particular audience, and left out what didn’t need to be said.
However, I think this issue is slightly more than semantic and perhaps touches on a deep church cultural problem. God the Father gave up His only Son as a sacrifice. It was a great sacrifice. It was not as though He-though if you want to get Trinitarian and technical, Jesus received the Church (John 10:29)-was getting something of equal or greater value (sounds like a coupon) when He received the church.
A wise person once declared a great error in our normal everyday thinking: “We think we are ‘the SH*T (in case you aren’t aware of this colloquial, it means awesome, or the best). And don’t we? Do we think that God made a fair trade? That we are worthy of this great sacrifice of a Savior being born in a feeding trough and crucified on a cross?
If we fail to see the depth of sacrifice, we fail to see how great we are loved. It wasn’t a fair trade-I can speak for myself. I was not worthy to be saved. However, Jesus would never say I , or you, weren’t worth it.
Instead of hopes of a fair trade, he came out of his great affection for His people and His own glory. And while He would never say anyone was worthy (deserving-before or after salvation) to be saved, I guarantee you he would say “I’m glad I came down to save sinners. It was worth my sacrifice.”
The greater we think we are, the closer it becomes to being a fair trade. The closer it becomes to being a fair trade, the further away from love we get: not only His love for us, but concomitantly our love for Him. He simply, and amazingly, puts His love over His children, like a Father/Mother puts his/her love over a newborn child. And I’m glad He does.