Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Credit Crunch

An edited version of my Morning Thought, for BBC Radio Wiltshire
Many of us are feeling the pinch from the "credit crunch". Politicians are trying to get to grips with a new world of collapsing banks and high oil prices. The US treasury is putting together a 700 billion dollar package to buy up the “toxic assets” of American banks. Getting out of the red is always a costly business. But that’s a whole lot of money to pay off bad debt.

The idea of debt features in the Lord’s Prayer, which famously begins,

“Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name”

As a child, I had to recite the Lord’s Prayer every day in school. It didn’t mean a lot to me then. Perhaps familiarity had bred contempt? But it really is a wonderful model of true prayer. In it, Jesus instructed his followers to ask God for many things like, “Give us this day our daily bread.” He also said that we should pray,

“And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.”

Now, Jesus wasn’t talking about finance here. He was suggesting that we are morally and spiritually indebted to God and we need him to write off the debt. What’s all that about? Well, God made us for himself, and he calls us to live for his glory. If we live as if he did not exist, and disregard his pattern for our lives, then we are getting ourselves into a spiritual credit crisis. We are “in the red” as far as our relationship with God is concerned. But Jesus tells us to pray that the debt will be cancelled. Can God just do that? He can, but there is a price to pay. As I said, it will cost a staggering 700 billion dollars to wipe out the bad debts of US banks. But the price of our forgiveness is much higher. God bore the cost of our “toxic assets” in his own Son, Jesus Christ. The Christian can sing,

On the cross he sealed my pardon,
paid the debt and made me free.

That’s gospel economics.

Mumbling thoughtlessly through the Lord’s Prayer never did anybody any good. But if you would know the God whose grace is free of charge, then try praying,

“And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.”
You can listen to recordings of this week's Graham Seaman breakfast show here. I'm on about 45 minutes into the programme.

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