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I went through a breakup last week, one I didn’t see coming. My cell phone provider called and said, “We need to talk.” I thought our relationship was fine, so I called back with a twinge of confusion. A prolonged and convoluted conversation revealed that my cell phone use was falling outside of the company’s parameters (something about towers, coverage and too much hassle for them). They admitted that the problem was with them and not me. Nonetheless, they suggested that I move on to another provider. I was stung! They threw in $300 to take the sting away. So, I am dating a new cell phone company and have hopes for a long-term relationship.

The episode was a lesson on capitalism. Capitalism works when all parties gain by the arrangement. The buyer and seller profit in the exchange. It breaks down when one of the parties seeks to stretch their gain into an unfair advantage. A consumer might look for a free lunch. A company might engage in price gouging, or ignore safety concerns to enhance profit. There are pitfalls to capitalism. The dissolve of my cell phone arrangement tipped me into one of them. Consumers are allowed to consume, only to the limit of the provider’s tolerance. Car insurance policies, all-you-can-eat buffets, hotels with noise restrictions, and plumbers who don’t want to drive too far – all provide service, but with a boundary. If you get close to it, you may be cut off. So, I am glad God is not a capitalist.

Our relationship with Jesus is not built on a reciprocal exchange. Clearly, there is gain on both sides of faith’s accord, but it is not equal. I receive much more than I could ever give! There is no Biblical fine print which warns me of expulsion should I violate a regulation or impose on God’s limits. I do fall short of the regulations daily, but God has no limits. His wrath is spent in Jesus’ sacrifice. His dusty-made children are not kept by adherence to the letter of the agreement. They are held safe by the grace of His heart. He will not disown His own (2 Tim.2:13).

None of this is new information to you. So, why do we still revert to a contractual relationship with God? It’s not our theology, but it can be our pattern. We silently think that we are held by our ability to do what is expected of us. We wonder if God might be disappointed in us, frustrated or simply fed up with our repeated failures and shortfalls. Will we get notice to take our souls elsewhere? Of course not! But our heads don’t always instruct our hearts well. Here is the irony. Yesterday I got a call from my old cell phone provider asking me to come back. Of course not! I won’t return to a place where I am simply being consumed for their profit. But, when God calls me back, this I remember. He never exploits. He always gives. So, I rush to Him.

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and
whoever comes to Me I will never cast out.”
John 6:37

Scott Tolhurst

Scott Tolhurst

Scott and his wife have spent almost 50 years following God together through life, marriage and ministry. They’ve hop scotched across Canada and landed at the water’s edge on Vancouver Island. They’ve harvested the riches of family (5 grandkids!) and the delights of God’s people. Life has not always been clear but the fog has been pierced with these truths. The heart matters. Kingdom work is God’s. Nothing can replace faith. It never ceases to amaze Scott that, if his life is a gift, how great the Giver must be!

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