This is my column for the December issue of our diocesan newspaper "ChurchActs"
Christmas. Credit cards. Big bills. It can really suck the fun out of life. I started thinking about the whole credit idea.
In this case I'm not talking financial credit. What jumped into my mind was a kind of spiritual credit. One that gets misused an awful lot. It's the credit some people think they build up with Jesus. The thinking goes something like this:
“Well, I went to church three times this month, and I served on the last Happening team, and I was nice to everyone, even you-know-who, though they didn't deserve it. So now it's OK if I have a little fun”.
“Fun” usually means “things I know I probably shouldn't be doing or will make my parents/people mad”. The idea is that as long as your “credit report” balances out you're OK. You just want to make sure that you're at least even, or even better, just a bit up on the “good” side over the “bad” side. A lot of people of all ages like to play this kind of credit game with Jesus. Somehow we convince ourselves that it's good enough to be good most of the time, a majority of the time, more often than not. And that this makes the other stuff (lying, cheating, sneaking around behind someones back, or worse) no big deal. If this is the way you've been thinking I have some bad news for you:
Your credit report stinks.
A relationship with God isn't about trying to make the best deal you can. We've already been handed the best deal there is between Christmas and Easter. When we get caught up in trying to “balance” the report what we're really saying is “I'm not really interested in changing. How much do I have to offer to get you to leave me alone?” Well there's good news and bad news. The good news is that God won't ever leave you alone. The bad news is that God won't ever leave you alone! While we know we can't be perfect we need to at least try not to be imperfect. Our culture doesn't want to believe it but it's actually easier and more fun to live life governed by the two concepts of Love God and Love One Another. Love is the “cash” of a life lived in faith. If I follow those rules I'm not going to do things that treat my relationships with God and other people in ways that are damaging. When I treat everything and every one around me with respect life becomes MUCH simpler. I don't have to make up stories to cover or remember which ones I've told. I don't have to avoid people because I'm ashamed or afraid of what they might think or say.
A life without credit is hard to get used to at first. When you get rid of it you realize what a burden it has been. It weighs down everything in your life.
There's no credit with Jesus. “Cash” only.