Assurance or Insurance?

Recently, I had the inestimable pleasure of forking out a small fortune for a new set of tires for my pickup truck. Acquiring tires is one of those activities that you may love, but it seems kind of like teeth cleaning to me – necessary: yes, exciting: no. Even the sales professionals at the Firestone store seemed bored schlepping rubber the day I showed up. And we should cut them some slack – I’m sure it takes practice keeping your happy sales face on all day when everything you sell looks exactly the same. Sure, there’s a million different kinds of tires, but from a distance they pretty much look the same.  Which means we aren’t likely to hear someone say: “Wow! What’s that?” when they see our new tires. Bummer. All I’m saying: something that comes with that kind of price tag should come with a “Wow!”

Since this was not my first time at the Firestone rodeo, I was prepared for the wow-less purchase and was ready to fend off the up-sale, when the salesperson attempted to scare me into road hazard insurance. Road hazard insurance, for the uninitiated, is one of those things that underworld financial wizards dreamed up in order to drive the knife deeper into our wow-less hearts at the time of our tire purchase. Cartels on small Caribbean islands must be financed by this genius ploy.  But the thing that drives us to lean into the wizard knife is fear.  What if I run over a nail or hit a bony possum in the middle of the night? The horror of it!  Lean in!  For a little extra green: no fear! Bang! Wow-less tires jump from expensive to opulent.

What’s all this have to do with Jesus, faith and church?

Sometimes we may treat Jesus, faith and the church like road hazard insurance. We know life is of great value and there are lots of hazards out there. Nails and bony possums are everywhere. So, we look for something to assure us. When we turn to Christ in prayer, he says, “I am with you always” and we find the peace that passes understanding. Our confidence in our roadworthiness is restored for that day.  Nice!

But then the Devil is a clever salesperson. He whispers in our ear: “That’s fine for today, but what about tomorrow. What if you die?” Suddenly, we meet the up-sale moment.  And the Devil says, “I have something that will ease your mind. I sell a road hazard insurance called religion. You don’t have to have faith and trust Jesus Christ’s promises to ride confidently on these fire stones. You don’t need God’s assurance. Take care of it yourself. Buy some eternal fire insurance. Go through the motions of religion. Keep your heart out of it. Act pious. Show up at church but don’t get involved. Make people think you’re devout.  Even read the Bible and quote from it on occasion. It impresses people. Buy your own way out of fear. It’s a heck of a lot easier than having faith in Jesus. In the end, if you pay extra, God will owe you a place in eternity.  If all else fails, I have a place for you in my organization at a place where we make the tar.”

St. Paul writes, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in our hope of the glory of God.”  (Romans 5:1-2).

Blessings,

Pastor Frank