We bought some Kellogg’s Pastry Crisps at Ollie’s. I noticed on the boxes that if you buy five boxes you get a free 3 pack of Nicole nail polish if you go to the web site. We happened to buy six boxes. It’s pretty typical that any offer from a box of anything I buy at Ollie’s is expired. This was good until October 13. Last week the site was down and I couldn’t enter the codes. Today I accomplished my mission and in 4 to 6 weeks I’ll be the proud owner of 3 bottles of nail polish. In the few minutes since I started typing today’s blog, I thought Diane, Adam, and I should take it to Haiti when we go next month if it comes in time.
I remember when you used to have to mail in offers like this. I remember when you had to buy a 32 cent stamp to mail a rebate form to receive a 75 cent refund on a product, netting you 43 cents 4-6 weeks later. As I type this I realize that sounds like an old person story. Today, you can redeem most offers like this on the internet, making them free. The idea of mailing in anything is foreign to our society today. But the idea of free is not. Now we can get any song we want (except music from Prince) on YouTube for free. We get free wireless internet when we’re at Starbucks or Lowe’s. We get free t-shirts, free phones, and the list goes on.
While all the stuff I talked about (and much more) is free to us, somebody has to pay for it. Sometimes it’s an advertiser, sometimes it ends up being us (like a phone plan to get the free phone), and sometimes it’s the U.S. taxpayer. Ironically, the “free” concept is often the most difficult part of Christianity for many people to accept. We’d feel better if there was something we could do to earn it – be a good person, do good deeds, give money to the church, etc.
But we can not earn it. God’s forgiveness is free. But it’s only free because someone paid for it. And someone paid dearly. Dietrich Bonhoeffer says we often cheapen God’s forgiveness. Bonhoeffer calls it cheap grace. He reminds us that while forgiveness is free, it is not cheap. There’s an offer out there to be redeemed. And while it’s free for you, it cost Jesus a tortuous death on the cross. And as someone who loves free stuff, it’s incomprehensible to me that people would not want to redeem that offer.