At first glance it seems quite weird that a fast food restaurant selling Chicken would choose a Cow as its mascot! However, on further reflection, it makes more sense than it would seem. After all, it has always seemed sort of creepy to me that those smiling pigs could be that happy about being BBQ! Know what I mean?
But I bring up this ironic example to use in an analogy which came to me today, concerning Grace, and the Atonement of Christ. We say that “Salvation is Free”, because Yeshua paid the entire redemption fee in full. Which is true, of course! Salvation – which is being set at Liberty from the curses that were brought on mankind through his wanton disobedience to God's standards; freedom to receive the ability to OBEY those standards; freedom to escape the bondages, strongholds, addictions and obsessions of the fallen human nature, also known as “Flesh”, and the sin which is expressed by it!
The Grace of God is a free gift, purchased by our Messiah, which offers us the ability to escape the confines of sin and death – and enter into a covenant with Eternal God once again! Therefore, we often conclude, and wrongly I think, that there is nothing whatsoever which is required of us! However, that is not necessarily a true conclusion of the matter. I hope to adequately explain this ironic assumption with the analogy which came to me today.
Recently, the aforementioned Chick-fil-A had a promotion which included an offering of a “Free” sandwich. That is, this sandwhich cost the consumer no cash, at all. However, one did need to show up for the sandwich – which meant spending the gas money to drive there, or the bus fare to go there, or an expenditure of energy spent walking there, (to keep from spending any money, therefore making it really “free” to that consumer), etc..
Also, there was the little matter of needing to don the Cow costume, which the consumer had to “humble themselves” enough to sport, in order to be eligible for the sandwich - since this was the condition of obtaining the sandwich without cash.
And, in addition, though they did not require one to buy anything else to have with the sandwich, if one wanted fries or a drink with that sandwich one must purchase those things after all. So all in all, while it was a fun and worthwhile promotion it was not “Free” in the most literal sense of the word. It did require effort and expense of some kind on the part of the consumer taking advantage of that offer! Though they were small requirements, which many were willing to “pay”, they were requirements to the offer nonetheless!
The same is true of Christ's offer to us. He has extended to us the GRACE to be free of sin! He has purchased, at great price to Himself, the opportunity to us to LIVE eternally, with a HOLY GOD, by being transformed into HIS Holy Character!!! What an offer!
However, He is NOT going to track us down in our bed and force that freedom, that transformation, upon us! We must show up! We must humble ourselves to acknowledge that we need His gift! We must receive His gift WITH the requirements which come with it! Such as the willingness to lay aside our former desires to obtain His! A willingness to be changed!
GRACE can be an acronym which means God's Redeeming Atonement Conquering Ego! We must be willing to forsake our own ideas about holiness, love, salvation, etc. in order to fully embrace His definition of those things! We must be willing to have our hard drive wiped clean and reprogrammed with HIS holiness! We can not continue to shelter and protect our pet addictions or obsessions, while pandering on about His free gift to us! We must choose between His gift and our fleshly desires! We must desire HIS holiness above whatever comforts or pleasures our lower nature can provide for us!
So, though they are small requirements indeed, in comparison to HIS great sacrifice to obtain this for us, still, they represent a significant effort on our parts to accept and apply this offer to our hearts, souls and lives! Receiving His sacrifice may cost us things along the way, such as relationships with those close to us, who are not so inclined. It may cost us sometimes in material wealth, social standing, integrity, or community respect, which is often withheld from those who follow Him. It may cost us nights of sleep as we battle unseen forces to hold onto our faith in Him. It may cost us our lives in some cases, since the enemy often stirs other human flesh to a furious, murderous froth against that Grace!
Still, in the long run, if we have paid those prices to follow Him, if we have made the efforts which are required to follow Him, to be changed into His Image, one day we get to break free of this mortal bondage and enjoy an eternity in His Holy, Omnisciently-Good, All-Loving, All-Affectionate Presence!
When seen in the light of blessed eternity, these few requirements seem small potatoes indeed. If people will wear a foolish cow costume to get a mere chicken sandwich, why wouldn't they look a bit foolish to other humans for a chance at an eternity spent with our creator? I don't get it! It is time for God's people to stop misrepresenting His Word. It is time to put up or shut up. It is time to quit being chicken and get a mooooove on!