And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. 1 Corinthians 13:13
“Christ’s work on the cross is a display of the plenitude of divine charity (John 3:16), of God’s giving and giving again. The atonement is not a settling of accounts, an exaction of payment, or the calling in of a debt. Rather, it is a matter of God’s ceaseless generosity, of God’s graceful prodigality. It is a matter of donation, of divine donation for our sake. Thus Christ is not our offering to God but God’s offering to us (Romans 5:8). God has always given to humanity in the form of love, and when humanity rejected that gift, God forgave and gave again in the form of love incarnate, which is the Son. Christ’s work is that of giving again, of communicating God’s prodigious love and grace (which has never ceased to flow) to humanity again (and again)… In Christ, God has refused to render to humanity what is due sin, but instead graciously endures humanity’s rejection and extends the gift/offer of redemption and reconciliation through Christ (Romans 3:25)…
In the economy of salvation, Christ is given not too to pay a debt or appease an angry God but so that God’s desire for communion is satisfied. Christ gives, even to the point of death on the cross, that desire might recover its rest, its true end, its enjoyment in the communion of charity that is the divine life. For this purpose, this mission, in Christ we are empowered to give ourselves — all that we are and all that we have — in love of God and service to our neighbor. In Christ our life is so ordered economically that we reflect the divine economy of ceaseless generosity, of unending charity. The Christian (economic) life is a matter of living life as the gift that it is. How does the body of Christ live so that its life is one continuous offering? How does our life reflect God’s unceasing generosity? Are we producing and using and enjoying all to the glory of God?”
Daniel M. Bell Jr. in The Economy of Desire (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2012) 150, 159-160.
On this Lord’s day, as we think about debt, let us not see it wrongly in our relationship with God. As Bell put it, “Christ is given not too to pay a debt.” He is given to restore our relationship with God. “Thus Christ is not our offering to God but God’s offering to us.” Christ incarnates God’s ceaseless generosity, His unending charity toward us.
The reason we then avoid financial debt is because we aim at “producing and using and enjoying all to the glory of God” rather than for fleshly or self-serving motives. We deploy all we are and all we have in love of God and service to neighbor not to win brownie points with God but to show a watching world how to live life as the gift that it is.
That’s why we were redeemed by the blood of Christ and reconciled to God. We’ve been made alive to experience communion with God and help others grasp it, not to accumulate stuff. Society deems the church irrelevant because most “so-called Christians” are no different from the world. They are saddled with debt from accumulating things and not extending the unending charity they supposedly received in Christ.
Is God speaking to you today? If so, take time to repent. Consider the ceaseless generosity extended to you in Christ. Think about the reality that you are here not only to grasp this divine life but to share it with others. Now chart a new course. Map your plan to pay off financial debts so that you are free to extend “unending charity” in love of God and service to neighbor. It’s the only way to live!Read more