Saturday, April 23, 2011

A, Easter Sunday – Colossians 3:1-4 “$0 to Pay!”

Zero Dollars to Pay
A sermon on Colossians 3:1-4
Easter Sunday (Year A)
Pastor Heath Pukallus Katanning-Narrogin Lutheran Parish

$0 to pay! …sounds too good to be true! But what an advertising slogan! I saw this in a big bold type plastered all over the front of a shop the other day. No doubt it was for an Easter sale.

We all seem to love sales of sorts! A garage sale, a seasonal sale, an end of year sale, a back to school sale, a run out model sale… Bring your wallet, bring your trailer, we won't be undersold! Bring your husband, bring your wife, bring the whole family! Grab a bargain before they're all gone! Guaranteed lowest price around! At this price it won't last long! Save, save, save… it's the once a year three day sale. Come in today, nothing to pay!

Looking away from the $0 to pay banner, I cast my eye over the stock inside the shop. Ooh! One of those would be nice, and that over there, now that looks good. I could get that, I don't have to pay. It's free! Well that's what my mind is telling me, anyway! So I glance back at the $0 to pay banner.

$0 to pay it says, then I realise what else it says. In smaller print I read …till 2013. 0$ to pay till 2013. But it's too late; the seed has already been sown. The thought of getting has imbedded itself in my mind. Ah well! I'll get it today and think about paying another day!

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1–4 ESV)

Imagine if God advertised the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ. Perhaps this advert might appear as the ultimate three day sale. Because in fact it is!

0$ to pay! A call to cast your eye to eternity! This is the lifetime EternaVision sale. $0 to pay! Full Stop! That's it; no hidden cost.

Well that's not entirely true! There's no hidden cost for us! Nevertheless, there was a cost and it wasn't hidden. It cost God the Father separation from his Son! It cost the Son his life on the cross. It might have appeared that the fine print got him, the devil in the detail, was in fact the devil.

But not as a victory for the devil as he might have thought. He didn't win, and now he never will win over Christ. The devil got done in the detail. The fine print means he now has limited power for a limited time and eventually he will be bound forever and get what Christ experienced on the cross. He and all his cronies will experience compounding alienation from God's glory, from any glory, and experience an eternity of God's wrath.

In their suffering there will be no more to pay! They won't be able to work their way out of God's wrath. The greater the effort to seek separation from suffering, the greater the realisation they will not be able to pay their way out, for they will be living an eternal life of pain, paying forever.

However, in this age it seems that many would rather this than the $0 to pay of an eternal vision, where there is truly nothing to pay!

It seems people want the $0 today but want the devil in the detail, and fatality in the fine print. Nothing to pay today, until eternity! And then pay dearly – deadly!

Imagine if there was a sale in the shops that truly claimed $0 to pay. Yes! At the beginning it would be treated with suspicion, but then the floodgates would open, and like a Boxing Day sale, people would be falling over themselves to grab a bargain.

Many though seem to look this gift horse in the mouth, and put conditions on God. However, when most of us go into a shop and make a purchase we accept their conditions. It's later on when the fine print comes into play that we might get caught out and whinge about the retailer.

But with God's $0 to pay there is a 100% reduction in cost! Not a 20%, 50%, 80%, or 99.9% reduction, but a genuine 100% reduction. If only our world would recognise this then the pews would be full and people would be hanging from the rafters in places like this.

So the price is paid, and it pays for us, hidden in Christ, not to continue hiding stuff from him…

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. (Colossians 3:5–10 ESV)

The text reads on with what some might say is the cost in this earthly life…

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12–14 ESV)

It seems the cost of Christianity is one must do humility, patience, forgiveness, and love. But then the $0 to pay begins to look like there is still at least a small percentage to pay. And if this is the case then it's no wonder many look the gift horse in the mouth and believe it's too long in the tooth to be of benefit to them!

However, those who do this are misreading what is not only the sale of the century but salvation into all eternity! We read on in Colossians 3…

…let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:15–17 ESV)

We have so much to be thankful for! Not only does Jesus give us a new way, there is truly nothing to pay! We don't have to do love, do humility, do forgiveness, patience, compassion and all the things we're called to do. Rather they're done in us and through us by the Holy Spirit. Let me say that again! We don't do them; they're done in us and through us by the Holy Spirit!

All it costs us is for us to stop and allow God to pay our way, and work in our place today. Surly that is not too much to ask, since he is the one doing all the work?

So grab a bargain today! Save, save, save, by believing you are saved, saved, saved! This three day event, Good Friday to today, Easter Sunday, is on sale now. Bring your husband, bring your wife, bring your whole family, bring your life! Come in grab the bargain today, while you're alive it's never too late! Take home Jesus today, take home Jesus tomorrow! Let Jesus take you home to eternity! $0 to pay; it's the only way! Amen.