On Friday, the company I work for gave employees $50 bills with a note that read: “This ain’t no trick, it’s a treat. Go do something fun or special on us.” Grammar aside, how can that get any better?
I got to be part of the team that handed these out in a few buildings. I’d approach a desk, unannounced, and say, “Happy Halloween. Here’s a surprise!” Most weren’t too excited, thinking the “surprise” would be a packet of sugary candy or some other normative Halloween treat. And then I’d set the cash on their desk, and they’d double take (one college intern pulled the quintuplet take–that’s a lot of Ramen). But once people realized what was there in front of them, they realized how great it was, and then something else happened. Not to everyone, but honestly to most.
Skepticism set in.
People looked quizzically at me. They checked the veracity of the bill—holding it up to the light like jaded bank tellers. They asked, “Is this real?” And even with a smile and a yes, they didn’t quite trust it.
And that was with a fifty! I imagine had we put a $100 bill on the desk the reaction would have been stronger. Free cars, stronger still—the greater the gift, the greater the accompanying disbelief. It reveals we don’t really trust goodness, especially unmerited, unearned goodness.
God claims to set His righteousness on the desk before us. His goodness, His mercy, His eternal life, just plopped down before us, ours for the taking. And I’ll hold it up to the light, I’ll try to earn it, but seldom do I just accept it. In my failure to do so, I miss the blessing and, more so, I miss the freedom of the blessing.
Hopefully, that $50 spot was a blessing and folks went to dinner or to a movie or, like me, dropped their car off at the mechanic for the second time in a week. What a waste if someone, not believing its truth, shredded the $50 or abandoned it altogether? And just as bad would be the person who put in a few hours on Saturday morning to make up for the gift. And yet, that is precisely the thing most of us do with the Good News of Christ.
I’ve heard people say, “I don’t know how people can be a Christians. Believe all that junk.” I’ve also heard it said, “I don’t know how a person could be an atheist and not believe in something beyond!” I can understand how people can take both of these positions. It boils down to the gift. Is it real? Does it spend? And, if so, can I humble myself and accept it?
I’ve answered in a number of ways in my life—and I’ve held things to the light to make sure. At some point, I came to a sure-fire answer of what I do with the $50, of how I even see the $50. I wonder if you can say the same? Not that you need to say one thing or another, but can you say something at all. Something firm and definitive? For me, it has been in the saying of a thing, and the subsequent ebb and flow of coming to believe it, that has made all the rest of this existence more clear. There is much to figure still, but I know I’m spending that $50 gladly.