Maayana split her lip, so Natalie dabbed the cut with the towel, then rinsed the towel in the sink before washing. Aedan watched – and when he got a mark on the towel, he decided to rinse it – and for good measure, added the other towels. The first Natalie’s Mum realised there was a problem was when Aedan appeared, distraught, and declaring the taps were stuck. Carpet, floor, walls & ceiling were all sodden. Aedan was bidden to apologise to Grandma and to take his ice cream purse.” Sorry, Grandma; Aeya [his self name] pay.” And 6p was proffered.” I’m afraid it is going to cost a lot more than that, Aedan.” [Beaming Smile] “Aeya pay.” And a few more pence were offered. Mum prompted Aedan – “I think its going to take all the money in your purse, and even that won’t be nearly enough.” Aedan reluctantly tipped out the purse and £1.50 in small coins poured into Grandma’s hand. [no beaming smile] “Aeya no more pennies” A short while later, as it dawned on him, “Aeya no more pennies; no ice cream.”
Everytime he passed the wet wall, he declared mournfully, “Oh dear, wall wet, dry soon; Aeya no pennies; not enough pennies; no ice cream.” At one point, he was clearly worried that the on-going debt was going to blight his ice cream consumption for the rest of his life, “Oh dear! Not enough pennies, wall wet, ceiling wet.” To which Grandma responded reassuringly “Aedan, Grandad and Grandma will pay; you won’t have to pay any more.” Aedan seemed to understand that the immediate consequences of his action was no ice cream, but the longer term consequence, the bigger debt, was dealt with by another out of love.
Sometimes, children – and grandchildren – give you an interesting way in to an article – but sometimes they just act out pure gospel! The results of Aedan’s actions were outside his resources to fix. However much he brought to bear, it was pence offered in the face of a much larger debt. “…not enough pennies!” Even when his purse was empty, the debt remained. His only hope was the gift given in love by his Grandparents: “Granddad and Grandma will pay.” Short term consequences remained (“no ice cream”) but the long term debt was paid. The gospel declares that we are all in the same boat “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (The Bible, Romans 3.23) Sin – bringing with it the wrath of God – is universal. This universal sin brings death “The wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6.23) so the consequence of our sin is that we earn death – sin is terminal. Paul continues by pointing out “I have the desire to do good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing!” (Romans 7.18b-19) showing sin is compulsive. We want to be good, we cherish a secret image of ourselves as a good person, but we know even with our generous-to-self standards, we are not the person we want to be – we just keep failing even our standards, let alone God’s standards.
Jesus challenges us “…no one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10.18b), and tells many parables showing we do not have the resources to earn forgiveness/pay back the debt, e.g. the unforgiving servant whose debt is too great for him to pay, but is forgiven, only to fail to be forgiving (Matthew 18.23-35) and symbolically, the wedding guest invited as an act of grace but refusing to wear the Lord’s wedding (grace) clothes, preferring his own resources – and gets thrown out! (Matthew 22.1-14). Sin exhausts our resources – pay-back is beyond our resources, so we are forgiven through another’s payment – in our case, Christ’s death on the cross.
God’s response is the free gift of grace in his Son Jesus, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5.8) “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5.1b). If we try to work our salvation, we will sooner rather than later discover ‘no more pennies’, but if we trust Jesus, he reassures us ‘you won’t have to pay any more’. He even ensures that there will yet be ‘ice cream’ – as there will for Aedan.
Praying that this New Year you may find in Christ Jesus the peace and joy of full forgiveness of your sin debt, and accepting his free gift of grace may rejoice to serve him with gratitude.
Your servant in the Lord Jesus Christ,