Thursday, July 24, 2008

Please Go into Debt


A lot of people are diving deeper into debt via credit cards. Some may be voluntary. Some may be by necessity.

"People are having to charge basic items like food because it is the only way they can afford them."
It was a quote given by a person testifying in front of a government committee.

The news story went on to splash $8,247 (or some similar number) as the amount of money the average American household has accumulated in credit card debt.

I haven't researched the veracity of the number. And my memory may have moved the numbers around. But the point was clear: Americans have too much debt.

I thought of that story as I read Romans 8:8.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for the one who loves their neighbor has fulfilled the law.

My initial reaction was that the debt of love is different than financial debt.

I thought, "We like to pay off credit card debt. But we like to be loved."

Therefore, credit card debt = bad.

Debt of love = good.

And I suppose that's true. But ... we enjoy being "in debt" for love?

Think about it:

When you've been wronged, do you want to act lovingly toward the other person?

When you've been wounded, do you want to make yourself vulnerable again?

When you've been burned, do you want to give that person another chance to burn you?

When you've been clear about your desire are you really ready to be ignored another time?

No. Such thoughts are foolishness. We have probably all heard Jesus' admonition to turn the other cheek or go the second mile. But really. C'mon. He didn't actually mean it, did he?!

Paul tells us he did. Paul tells us to let the debt of loving one another remain outstanding. Continue to owe love to other people. Always be acting, talking, and thinking lovingly towards people.

Then I had this crazy idea.

What if we did the opposite of trying to get out of debt? What if we intentionally went deeper into the debt of love? What if we decided that we'd never be out of the debt of love to other people?

What if we were so determined to love each other that love really did cover a multitude of sins?

What would our community look like if we forgave as we have been forgiven?

I'm guessing that the Chamber of Commerce wouldn't have to do any advertising. People would flock to the area. And not just for the Purple Rose, the Common Grill, or Jiffy Mix. But because there's a place where people would be patient, joyful, and forgiving.

I'm guessing the realtors in town would always have buyers and very few sellers. The value of your home and mine would go up. Who wouldn't want to live in a place where people were always seeking to pay forward the kindness and generosity of others?

Paul writes, "love is the fulfillment of the law" in Romans 8:10b. If everybody is being like Christ, what else would there be to say? Pastors and priests would spend a lot less time talking, teaching, and preaching. We would spend a lot more time doing, working side-by-side with parishioners and congregants who made paying the debt of love a way of life.

I wonder...

Does such a community exist?

Is there a place where people are actually going deeper into this kind of debt?

If you find it, let me know. I want to be a part of such a place.

Grace & peace

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