When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,”
and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
- John 19:30 (ESV)
I hate paying bills. It’s not spending the money. It’s the administrative act of paying bills.
I hate getting the envelope. I hate opening it. I hate unfolding the papers inside. I hate reading and reviewing the itemized charges. I hate getting out my checkbook; filling a check out by hand (what is this, 1876?); tearing the check out of the book; tucking it in another envelope that arrived like some Russian nesting doll in the original envelope; licking that nasty envelope glue; sealing it; finding a stamp somewhere in our kitchen junk drawer amidst rubber bands, pencils with broken tips, papers from the last school year, and gift cards with a balance of $1.87; writing my return address; walking out to the mailbox; putting it inside; remembering to flip that little red flag up; and all of this at least three days ahead of the due date.
And this isn’t because I’m lazy, which of course I am. It stresses me out because I’m worried that I’ll get distracted by a million other things and forget to do what I need to do by the time I need to get it done. The due date stresses me out. The administrative necessity of staying on top of one more thing makes me anxious.
Here’s the real problem though: the whole process is all so frustratingly dependent on me.
That’s why I love living now and not back in 1876. We have technology. Thanks to the cumulative contributions of nerds down through the ages, I can work myself completely out of the equation.
A few years ago, I started setting up “auto pay” for any and every bill in my life. Now, my bills just get paid - on time, every time. My life runs much better and much smoother now that it’s not so dependent on me! The lights stay on and the pressure is off!
Now, I try to automate anything that I can. Contacts are delivered to my house automatically. Heart worm medication for my dog and filters for my air conditioner just show up, as if by magic. If I could get a robot to make my kids’ lunches and a drone to literally drop them off at school, I would. I even once had Peanut Butter M&Ms delivered to my house.
I love knowing that the essentials of my life are covered. I love knowing that the pressure is off. Knowing that more and more things are handled ahead of time has freed me to enjoy life more, not anxiously attend to it.
Now that I think about it, that’s probably one of many reasons that I’m a Christian.
Religion, as most understand and try to live it, is about doing more, trying harder, and being better - all in an attempt to satisfy and keep our accounts current with God. It’s about knowing what needs to be done to earn God’s favor (or at least some experience of peace for our souls), and then doing it. It’s rooted in conditionality, “Do X and then receive Y” kind of thinking. It portrays God as looking down from heaven, and yelling like some harsh landlord, “You can come up when you pay up!”
For years, that’s what I thought God wanted of me, that his Law was like a million bills arriving from distant heaven that I had to pay on time, every time to keep the spiritual lights on. I tried. Man, I tried. I became super religious in some respects. I prayed. I read my Bible. I volunteered. I worked hard to try and pay God what he was owed on time, every time.
Despite all of my anxious effort, I fell short - time and again. I couldn’t keep it up. My religious checks bounced, arriving later and later and much more than a dollar short. My spiritual lights were going out.
What good news to eventually hear that Christianity is not ultimately about what I can or should do for God. It’s ultimately about what God has so graciously done for me. It’s not about me paying it all; it’s about Jesus paying it all for me.
Child of God: Jesus did just that - for you. He suffered and died for you, completely paying the penalty for your sin, on your behalf (John 10:11; 15:13; Romans 5:10, 18; Romans 6:10, Colossians 2:14, etc.). Beyond that, he lived a life of perfect obedience in your place, fulfilling God’s law for you (John 8:29; 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 1:18-19; Hebrews 4:15; 1 John 3:5). Because of Jesus, you are not only debt free before the throne of God. You also now have the riches of Christ’s righteousness (Galatians 4:5-7; Ephesians 1:3; Colossians 2:10). God is not yelling from heaven, “You can come up when you pay up!” In Jesus, he came down to earth to say, “Through me, your account is now more than paid in full.”
You're covered. Jesus paid it all. The pressure is off. Now, you can simply enjoy God without the burden of trying to earn him. So, where are those Peanut Butter M&Ms?
You're loved. Don't forget it.
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