The free gift. I don’t know what you feel when you hear that expression, ‘free gift’. I know for me, I think, ‘Uh-uh, no, I don’t believe that! There’s bound to be a catch.’ We’re deeply suspicious of anyone who offers us a free gift.
Pippa and I were out for a walk in St James’s Park with my daughter and son-in-law, and it was raining. We popped into the café to get some coffee. And my son-in-law Myles ordered a café latte, and there was a bit of a mix-up and he got two café lattes by mistake. And he said, ‘No, no, I don’t want this one.’ And they said, ‘Well, no, no, you can have that one for free.’ So he offered it to us. We didn’t want it. He said, ‘Okay, I’m going to go and offer it to someone in the park.’
So, to understand this story you have to know what my son-in-law looks like! [image on screen] So this is my son-in-law Myles: he’s a rapper, and he’s a nice guy! He’s a great guy! I’m very blessed with him as a son-in-law. If you’re listening to this, Myles, we love you! So, but Myles decided he was going to try and give this café latte to someone in the park. But when they saw him approaching, they all backed away! And no one wanted to take it. And the more people backed away, the more it looked suspicious because people could see that everyone was backing away, and I think they thought— We were all standing there roaring with laughter – I think they thought it was some programme; that we were filming him.
So he just could not give it away. Eventually, he walked alongside someone for 400 yards, chatting to them, making friends with them, and eventually persuaded them to take it – by which time it was cold! But the point is, nobody wanted a free gift.
And we’re so suspicious. And we think, you know, ‘God is offering this free gift. There must be a catch.’ There isn’t a catch. It is free. But it’s not cheap.
It cost Jesus his life. He died for you, he died for me, so that we could be forgiven and receive this gift of eternal life, this gift of a relationship with him. And we receive it through repentance and faith. ‘Repentance’ sounds a really heavy word, but all it means is turning away from the bad stuff in our life, changing our mind about that stuff and saying: ‘Actually, that doesn’t do us any good anyway.’ God loves us. He never asks us to give up things that are good for us. He just says, ‘Get rid of that junk. Turn away from it.’
And sometimes people talk about ‘the cost of being a Christian’, the cost of being a Christian is nothing compared to the cost of not being a Christian. The cost of being a Christian is nothing compared to what it cost Jesus to make it possible for us to have this relationship with God. That’s repentance.
And then faith. Faith is just trust. That’s what it means. Everyone exercises faith. You’re exercising faith by sitting on these chairs – you’re trusting that the chair will hold you up. All the way through life we exercise faith.
When I was an atheist, I was exercising faith in the fact that I believed there was no God. That was an act of faith: you can’t prove it, but I based my life on it as an act of faith. Now I base my life on faith in what Jesus did on the cross for me, and on him. I put my trust in him.
That’s the second leg of the tripod: the work of Jesus.