You don’t have to hang out among Christians for very long before hearing about the “free” gift of salvation in Jesus. It is amazing how we owe Jesus nothing in return for His saving us for all eternity and sending His Spirit to live inside us. We marvel at this gift, and with good reason. But, in truth, the gift isn’t free. No gift is. Every gift will cost the giver something. The gift of salvation is no different.
Around Easter, we take the time to ponder what it cost Jesus to save us. But we rarely think about or discuss what this “free” gift of salvation cost God the Father. Can you imagine volunteering your child to die on behalf of a multitude of ungrateful people, most of whom will refuse the gift, anyway? What the gift of Jesus cost God is beyond human comprehension. Perhaps it’s why we choose not to think or talk about it.
In the beginning, God gave us the gift of life. Again, He demanded nothing in return. He only asked the same thing He asks today: that we would love and worship Him. Adam and Eve decided they would rather grab a little glory for themselves instead of giving it all to God. They ate from the forbidden tree of knowledge, and the rest is (literally) history. God created us in His image, gave us some of His power of reasoning, and even the freedom to choose how we would live. He didn’t have to give us any part of Himself, but He did. It didn’t turn out well.
Throughout history, we have rejected and betrayed God over and over. We’ve defamed His character by accusing Him of causing the evil our own sin brought into the world. When we make poor choices and don’t get the results we want, we blame God. If He would have withheld free will from humans, we wouldn’t have anything for which to blame Him because He would make every choice in the right way. But we would have lost the opportunity to collaborate with the God of the Universe in writing history. We would have never known love, as the ability to choose it would have never been ours.
God gave up His dream of a perfect world by giving humans free will. He knew It meant He would have to endure being offended by looking at the continuous decay and depravity of the world He created. He loved us so much, He gave up His dream of perfection for us to have a relationship with us. Since we messed it up so badly, He paid the even greater price of sacrificing His only Son for the very people who had made such a mess out of the world He created. For our sake, he watched the torturing, cursing, and eventual murder of His Son. He suffered all this so we could receive the “free” gift of Jesus. The gift of salvation is free to receive, but it cost God more than we could ever imagine. Next time we think of sinning against His name, we would do well to remember the price He paid for us.