Thursday, June 16, 2011
Earning Your Way Or Accepting His Gift?
Day 349 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
Winding it down now. My birthday is almost upon me this year, which will finish out this series. What better way to help close it out than by telling a little bit about a place I used to visit when I was younger.
My picture today is of a place that happens to be the same building I used to frequent, but not the same establishment. Back when I would go there to waste time and just hang out it was called "Pete's Place". It was a large pool hall/ game room and I wasted many Saturday nights and many quarters there. I was never good at pool so I mostly played pinball or the newest video games like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong or Galaga. I would also play pinball, which I never was good at either, but it was fun as far as I can remember. I'm talking almost 30 years ago and my memory is so shot that I can't even remember what clothes I had on yesterday.
This building now houses "The Pony" with the tag line "The Ultimate Strip Joint". I will not go into much detail, but it is a strip joint. Women take their clothes off and men give them all of their money. It is one of those "wages of sin" things. I have not been to the Pony and never will, unless it is to pass out tracts or pick up someone I know that might need a ride. I wish I could say I never have been in a strip club, but I can't say that.
Speaking of "wages of sin"... Romans 6 tells us about those wages that we earned in our sins. We actually earned our place in hell by our sinfulness. To put that into a better understanding, look at your job, you work and you expect to earn a wage for your labors. Now put that on your sins, laboring in sin to earn death and hell. But that's only the bad news. The Good News is that God has a gift for us, which means it is something that we cannot earn, we cannot deserve it and it is not owed to us for any reason at all on our part. It is a gift, which means something that is given freely regardless of anything we may have done. If it was given to us out of obligation then it would be a payment, which would mean we worked to get that as well, but Paul's language here is wonderful.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
One of those well known verses that people gloss over, but yet so rich in the love of God. Even though I earned my place in hell through my working for damnation, in an ever constant state of rebellion to the God of the universe, He loved me. He gave me the gift of His love, His Son shed His blood for me and granted me the gift of eternal life. Good news indeed.
You know what is sad? That even though I have this free gift, I still try to buy my destruction by sinning against my God. Do you know what else? The gift is unconditional. God gave me something I did not deserve and because He gave it to me, He will never take it back. If He did it would no longer be a gift and instead would become a payment for as long as I was "good". A lot of people call that "once saved always saved" and others call it "perseverance of the saints" I call it amazing.