The Price is Paid

shutterstock_147991865.SmllrA

Imagine a shoplifter being caught in a department store. He is held there until the police arrive. The police officer then pays for the stolen goods, and gives them back to the shoplifter before setting him free!

That’s exactly what happened to a young man attempting to steal clothes in a Walmart store in Toronto recently. thestar.com reported that the eighteen year old had stolen a dress shirt, tie and socks. Police officer, Niran Jeyanesan, realised that there was more to this case, and began to question him about why he wanted the clothes. The young man reluctantly explained that his father was ill and couldn’t work. So he himself had decided to find a job to help his family. He’d even been offered an interview, but needed clothes to go in.

“He was very remorseful, very ashamed,” said Jeyanesan. “I could see that this is truly a mistake and this person wanted a chance at life.” So he paid for the shirt and tie himself before taking the young man to the police station, where they decided not to charge him. He was given the clothes, which he wore for the interview, and got the job!

“It was a case that allowed us to use our discretion. You could truly see that this person was trying to do something with his life,” Jeyanesan said, “This is a chance where we get to do something good. We all make mistakes and someone, at some point, gives us a second chance.”

1708.Toronto police officer Niran Jeyanesan - Yahoo - Toronto Police Service - Canadian Press

Police officer Niran Jeyanesan  (Toronto police service / The Canadian Press)

By his actions, police officer, Niran Jeyanesan, showed us what our Creator is like. In my previous post, “Heaven … a free gift?”, I explained how the love and acceptance of our Creator is a genuinely free gift. For our part, maybe we, like the shoplifter, have regrets, things on our conscience, times when we could have behaved differently, less selfishly, more calmly or honestly perhaps, and yet God comes to us offering forgiveness, acceptance and love no matter who we are and no matter what we’ve done.

All this is possible because Jesus, like the police officer, has paid the cost of the forgiveness that we don’t deserve. Out of His love for us, Jesus willingly went to the cross 2,000 years ago. We often think of a cross as an item of jewellery, but it was actually the place where Jesus took the weight of all of our wrongdoing, and paid the ultimate price by dying in our place. Through His death, Jesus took away the barrier between ourselves and our Creator. Consequently, we can come to Him in prayer and thank Him for His amazing gift, admitting we’ve gone our own way for too long, and making that decision to follow Him. The way to God is open to all who will receive the new life that Jesus offers. As the lyrics to this song by Graham Kendrick tell us:

 

“The price is paid,

Come let us enter in

To all that Jesus died

To make our own.

More than enough He gave

And bought our freedom

From each guilty stain.”

Heaven … a Free Gift?

shutterstock_165871943.Smllr

How much have you earned during your life so far? It may be that you’re still a student or unemployed and are glad of every penny that comes your way, or maybe you’ve been working for many years and are still waiting for the ‘big money’ to start rolling in. In contrast, it was revealed recently that the BBC TV and radio presenter Chris Evans earns over £2 million a year. But there are some things that even that amount of money can’t buy, such as a place in Heaven.

Yet in 2013 Israel Today reported that Ari Mendel, a young Jewish American, tried to do just that, by putting his place in Heaven up for sale on eBay! He thought that his many good deeds, done while studying at a Jewish seminary, had earned him credit with God, even though he had subsequently fallen away from the “right path.”

“Surely my place in Heaven is worth something,” he declared, as he encouraged bidders to offer a reasonable price. Bids reached $100,000 USD on eBay, until the company put a stop to the sale, saying that “the afterlife is not a tangible thing, and therefore cannot be sold.”

Ari Mendel had made two rather basic mistakes. Not only is it impossible to sell a place in Heaven, it’s also impossible to earn one. Although our Creator calls us to a selfless life, all of Ari’s good deeds, whatever they were, could never have ‘earned’ God’s favour. God’s love, His forgiveness and a place in Heaven are all a free gift given to anyone who recognises that they are completely undeserving. And that is good news to the spiritually hungry amongst us.

… God’s free gift is eternal life in Messiah Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23

 

So when we talk to our Creator, we can know that we are coming to Someone who offers His love and understanding free of charge and without condemnation. He knows the struggles inside of us; He knows what we’ve been through, and He calls us to turn from our own ways, receive His forgiveness and to follow Him.

He loves you. Let Him lead you into a future that is beyond price.