In an attempt to fight the recent recession and housing crisis, the U.S. government is considering the creation of a so-called “bad bank,” a government-owned institution which assumes the debt incurred by any bad assets (such as loans or mortgages) owned by an independent bank. For example, if a house goes into foreclosure, the house would not be owned by the local bank or credit union that financed it, but instead it becomes the property of the “National Bad Bank,” cancelling out the debt of the local bank.
Many conservatives are decrying such a possibility, because it would lead to a kind of socialism (economically socialist Sweden has pioneered such a system). However, I’m not writing this to talk about the economic ramifications of such an action. Instead, President Obama and Congress have unwittingly provided for the whole world an amazing allegory for Christianity.
You see, each of us have a debt before God, one which we cannot cancel out on our own. It is called sin. The Bible defines sin as the breaking of God’s moral law (1 John 3:4). Most people are familiar with the Ten Commandments, but at the same time most do not actually test themselves by the standard of the Ten Commandments, to see how they stand before God, when in fact the Bible commands us to test ourselves (2 Cor 13:5). So, ask yourself if you’ve ever broken them: Have you ever lied? Have you ever stolen? Have you ever used God’s name in vain? That means, have you ever used the name of the One who created you without due reverence, or even as a curse word? Have you ever even coveted something that belongs to someone else?
Most of you probably have never comitted murder, which the sixth commandment forbids. However, Jesus took it one step further: “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matthew 5:22) Jesus says it’s just as bad to murder as it is to be angry without cause!
Furthermore, some of you might look at the seventh commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” and think you’re safe with that; maybe you’ve only had sex inside of marriage, with your spouse. But Jesus again presses the point not only to the outward actions, but also to the inward thought life: “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)
Why is the thought-life so important to God? Just imagine if you were to conspire to kill President Obama. Even talking about it will get you sent to jail for many years, never mind the actual deed! So in the same way, God knows your internal thoughts:
- “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.” (Psalm 139:2)
- “The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, but gracious words are pure.” (Proverbs 15:26)
- “For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” (Luke 8:17)
- “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12)
- “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30)
If the idea of a day when you will be held accountable for all that you’ve done causes you fear or concern, good! It should! The Bible says that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31) God has appointed a place for the eternal punishment of everyone who sins against and offends an eternally holy and just God: that place is called hell.
- “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
- “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)
But just like how the proposed bad bank will resolve financial debt, Christianity is the one and only religion which offers a solution to how your debt before God can be forgiven. How? Well, first you have to be humble, and realize your sin. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) You cannot do anything on your own to save yourself. Going back to the money analogy, if your home is about to be foreclosed, you cannot do anything to save that home. But imagine, if the banker pulled out his own personal checkbook from his pocket, wrote out the amount you owed, and gave it to you, no questions asked, as a free gift.
In a similar way, that’s what God did for you 2000 years ago: God came to earth, became a man named Jesus, and lived for about 30 years or so. His sole purpose in doing so was that He would suffer and die for yours and my sins, as a transaction to pay the debt you could not owe. Jesus then proved that He was God, by rising from the dead on the third day after His death. His body is not in the tomb anymore; if it was, those who killed Jesus and persecuted the first Christians would have used it as evidence against them.
So God has given you this gift: how do you respond to it? Like the verse above says: “God commands all people everywhere to repent.” Humble yourself, and pray to God, confessing your sin to Him. You don’t need to follow some rote prayer, just ask God for forgiveness and to be made clean and right before Him. Then read your Bible, obey it, and find a good church which is serious about God and about the Bible. Thank you for reading this, and God bless you.
All Scripture verses used from the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible. (c) 2001, 2007 Crossway Publishers. This was inspired by a friend of mine who told me about the “bad bank” and its spiritual application.