With the constant changes in the economy, the decreasing value of the dollar and the high cost of fuel, many people have become consumed with saving money on groceries and house hold goods. The Learning Channel, or TLC’s Extreme Couponing a reality show that every episode tells the story of two or three different coupon fanatics. The people featured come from all walks of life, but they are all very serious and singularly focused on saving as much money as possible at the register. I don’t just mean hundreds of dollars. I mean thousands, like over $3,000 worth of merchandise for $0.06. Seriously.
The climax of each episode is when the coupon users are “paying” for their purchase; these are transactions that sometimes take more than 30 minutes! (They routinely crash the store’s computer!) In that final moment, all the preparation, the collecting, the cutting out, the organizing the counting, the research… all the hard work usually pays off. But there is always a moment of doubt.
Seeing an episode reminded me a lot of what our faith in Christ must be like. Hearing the cashier say, “Your entire $1,736.57 purchase today is free!” got me thinking that this must be similar to what it will be like when we stand before God as a follower of Christ. The Father says, “You have a debt that you cannot possibly pay, but my Son has taken your place and paid the debt.” Wow. That’s what I call savings!
In Romans 8:12-17 Paul says, “So then, brothers, we are debtors,” but he continues to our status after the purchase is complete. “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.”
Here’s where the original simile breaks down though… jump back to the cash register and Extreme Couponing‘s moment of truth. Your planning and work is done. The coupons are ready, in order and the entire purchase has been scanned. It’s time to see if all the hard work has paid off. Instead of Jesus being a “coupon” (forgive me, Lord!), He comes to the register and says, “Put your coupons away. They are all worthless.” In fact in this metaphor, He would probably say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. There are no discounts or registers because the entire price has been paid. You own the entire store. It’s open 24/7 for you and there is nothing you could have done to earn this.”
“[But God], immense in mercy and with an incredible love, embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.” That is a small excerpt from Ephesians 2:1-10 in The Message.
So perhaps the next time you pull out your discount card or your stack of coupons, remember the price that has been paid for you through God’s incredible love… not just a bargain. He wants to give you the entire store! When you are ready, He’ll be waiting, always open, no coupon required.