I used to be a car dealer. Back in 1997 I moved back home to work for my dad and learn the family business. My dad owned and managed a Chrysler/Plymouth/Dodge/Jeep dealership. He started doing that in the early 80s and has a very good business with loyal customers (In 2004 my dad gave up the Chrysler franchise to focus on other ventures. He now sells used cars and does some woodworking/cabinet building and still has a very good business). My dad has an excellent reputation for honesty and kindness which largely contributes to his customer’s loyalty.
Most people in my small hometown of Dawson, MN expected me at some time to return home to learn the business. After all, that is what the older (and in my case, the only) son is supposed to do. But two and a half years later I realized I sucked at selling cars (but that is another blog entry, so let’s move on).
While learning the business one of the jobs I disliked the most carried the title of "repo man". You see…one of the things my dad would do is co-sign loans for people who bought cars from him. Most people were honest so this was not a problem. But every once in a while someone would take advantage of my dad’s kindness and generosity and default on the loan. When that happened, I was sent to retrieve the vehicle. I only went on three repo missions but they always made me nervous. Who knows how people will react when you show up to take their vehicle back. Luckily I never had any problems, but it still didn’t lessen my anxiety about repo missions.
Imagine if God had a repo man or worse yet, was a repo man himself as it pertains to the promises he gave to us <pause to reflect and ponder…but not too long> wouldn’t that be a scary thought? But don’t worry, when you are baptized, God makes certain promises. God essentially "co-signs the loan" and takes complete responsibility for any losses. The promises that God makes are: forgiveness of sins, membership into the church and the body of Christ and eternal life. God says "here you go…enjoy…why, because I love you". But everyday we "default on the loan". We sin. We hurt God. We fail to acknowledge God and the promises given to us. We fail to help others. We become selfish. We don’t talk to God. And I could go on, but I think you get the point.
But here is the great thing about God…God is not a repo man. God does not come to us and say, "You haven’t come to worship enough or read your Bible enough or prayed enough (…etc) so I am going to take back those promises I made to you". God does not do that. Instead, God sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to this world to die and rise for our sins. God seals his promises through the cross. God is not a repo man but this does not give us free reign to continue to take advantage of God’s love for us. What it does is assure us, even though we are sinful, we will always be wrapped in God’s loving arms; knowing our status in God’s family will never change.
So do your best to "repay God" not out of obligation, but out of thanks. God is not a repo man and therefore the promises given to you in baptism are yours forever. Praise be to God, always and forever. Amen! -edh-