The Philippine World Food Expo ended today. There was food in every corner, in every size and shape, and taste. There were also various food machineries. And as usual, where there is food, there are people. As I accompanied my wife in this sort of trips, I found myself contemplating on some spots I saw, especially the freebies. They made me think of grace.
It became apparent as I observed it that where there is a pack of people, there is free food. Of course, it is a World Food Expo and you would expect food. Not just food, but good food. After all, you pay a 100 peso entrance fee for it. Not that free food tastes are required for every booth, but you would expect that some would have free pageantry of their wares, mostly food.
And then I thought: I wish this is the same reaction to grace! Because grace is free! Take it!
I mean grace of the sort spoken by the Bible as saving grace. The sort of what the Reformers like Martin Luther called as the Sola Fide component of what they believe as the Five Solas.
The Bible says this:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
(Eph 2:8-9 ESV)
Salvation is a gift. It’s free. So why doesn’t this freebie sell so well?
Perhaps for the most of us, we don’t feel too hungry for something that claims that saves us. In a world filled with many gospel substitutes, there is so little place for the gospel that really satisfies the soul. We have a hunger but not for that. Our quest for our portions of money, fame, and fortune can really give us fillers for that hunger that we feel and yet deny. And yes, as I think about it, even food can be a filler for that hunger – that gnawing hunger of the soul.
We are all hungry. We are just trying to satisfy that hunger differently. The Reformers called the process of being made aware of that hunger as regeneration. And yet we all have that hunger, and as long as we are not regenerated as to what the hunger is all about, there would be fillers, because we are truly hungry.
Ah yes among the fillers, finally there is religion. Religion is satisfying because it makes us believe we can please God with our own abilities. Our prayers, our Bible-reading, our good works, our charity, our gifts to the church, our lending money to friends, our taking care of our children, our being good models and citizens, our contribution to the education and advancement of people, our good works: all are going to be used by God as the grounds whether we would be saved. God would balance all those against our sins, and in the end, if the good outweighs the bad, you’re saved! You earned it!
You earned it! Wrong! Remember, the verse about it being a gift? A gift is not a gift if you earned it.
Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. (Eph 2:9 NLT)
But now, as I’m writing this, perhaps the reason why so many flock to this Free Taste stalls is that the goodie doesn’t really cost anything.
Free bread? Why not? Follow the man! Perhaps too, this is the common concept of grace today. What Dietrich Bonhoeffer callled cheap grace.
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. (Joh 6:26 ESV)
Salvation is free yes, but it’s not cheap. It was bought with a price. It would yield evidences, it would yield fruit.
Following Jesus isn’t cheap. It would cost you your life. It’s not a freebie thing without effects. It’s a kiss and at the same time it’s a kick that makes you move. It is never a dead meat.
Salvation is a freebie food. But it’s a food that would make you kick fences of sin in your backyard. It’s so potent because its ingredients are the flesh and blood of someone who said He is the Son of God. It’s beneficial effects are guaranteed.
It’s either that or the claim of any stall offering it as a freebie without its life-changing effects are fake. This is freebie food to change us – Food from Heaven that satisfies.
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.
Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.
(Joh 6:26-27 ESV)
Well, just to serve you a food for thought. Take it.