Redemption is an idea that permeates much of modern American Christianity. We see Redeemer Church and we sing hymns about being redeemed. But what does redemption mean? I mean really. Do we understand the challenge of being “bought or purchased” from our sin?
A sampling of Webster’s multiple definitions of Redeem:
To buy back; to free from what distresses and/or harms; to change for the better; to atone for
My wife, like many others, several years ago jumped headlong into the couponing trend. She would take time and energy to buy a dozen newspapers and clip coupons, store them, and then crash the lines at the local grocery stores, Walgreens, or Walmarts. She would tell me about the rush of seeing the cost of her purchase plummet down and down and even receiving something for free or as close to free as possible. She talked about how the value and the accomplishment was such a rush.
She redeemed those coupons. She was set free from high prices on toothpaste and deodorant.
I have to imagine that Jesus, when he finally spoke the words “it is finished,” felt a great sense of accomplishment. He laid down his life to pay for our sins, to bring value and freedom from what we deserved, and to help change us for the better. He redeemed us. He exchanged His life for ours.
These are true and simple things most people in the church understand. What I don’t think we understand is that we like to use the past tense of REDEEMED, instead of the present tense REDEEMING. We celebrate in Christ’s redeeming power, as we should, but I believe our celebration is incomplete, like a five-year-old’s birthday party without a cake containing five glowing candles on top.
Our focus goes to the past and not to the present. If Christ has redeemed us, then we are to be redeeming the time we have. We leverage our time by buying people back from the distresses and/or harms they are facing. We help them change for the better by living and leading with the understanding of the atonement Christ has offered.
I have to ask a hard question to us all, myself included. If we have been redeemed, truly redeemed, how are we redeeming the time we have been given? Wherever you are reading this post, I want you to say something aloud. I want you to name the last person you led to a saving knowledge of Jesus. Can you say a name, any name? Can you think back that far? Can you think of a name ever? Don’t be fooled. It is the job of the redeemed to help others come to know the Redeemer as we are Redeeming the time we have been gifted.
My prayer is that God would push us to move forward, to start a trend of redeeming, present tense, every day. Do we live as the redeemed that are redeeming the time Christ has gifted us?
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