FREE...the word itself conjures up several feelings. At first blush, it excites the mind and entices our eyes to look. After all, free is free. Walk through a grocery store on a Saturday and free food from various vendors greets our senses. We hastily grab the products from their tray and gobble them up, pretending that we may purchase their product so we don't feel bad as we walk away looking for the next nibble. Free is what we think of when we consider cheap, unwanted, and unnecessary items such as free tickets to a concert for a band no one has heard of or cares to know more about. Free is not American, it does not make one rich, and it certainly does not end with the free product, as the purpose is to get you to pay for a little more of the free stuff.It appears to me that Jesus messed up (hold your gasp, Christian, and humor me for a second). That is, if He would have told us, "In order to be saved, you must cut off your right arm" or "God so loved the world that He needs your left foot to be placed on a fire built from gopher wood near the base of Mt. Everest on November 21st. If you do this, you shall be saved". Ah, our intellect and sense of fairness perks. Payment for something of value enters our mind, and we drive forward.
Now there is no question who is "saved"; just look for the missing left foot replaced with a prosthetic limb, brandishing a tattoo of John 3:16.
Man has always understood salvation comes with a price. Culture after culture has killed in the name of sacrifice to their god(s). Today, we sacrifice babies to the god of money and convenience and call it "choice". Oh, we humans get it; there must be a sacrifice for our individual god(s). We just don't get a God who says, "You can't do it, I had to, and it's free". Pardon this apparent contradiction, but while His gift is free, it will cost you, it will cost you giving up your personal pursuits to follow His instead (Lk. 9:24). But the gift is still free in the sense your “sin bill” is paid in full. This seems to rival our idea of fairness. "Let me walk on my knees for miles until I bleed and reach a statue of You" or "Make me count beads while I mumble a specific magical prayer" or "Tell me I must sell everything and live in abstract poverty or You will not love me"...then, and only then, will I believe You love me. "I have to earn everyone’s love, why should You be different?"
Dear friend, I get it. I am as human as you. Free just doesn't seem to work for us. But thanks be to God He offers salvation via the finished work of His Son Jesus Christ. Our salvation was not free; it cost Jesus His life. He paid the price in full, because we cannot afford it. Accept the unmerited favor of God and know peace, fulfillment, and glorify Him with whatever life you have remaining.