This week I was asked to teach in Kid’s Church on debt. After spending some time in prayer, this is what I felt called to teach. I pray that it speaks to you the way it spoke to me. It’s written for children, but sometimes God’s message simply doesn’t need to be that complicated.
What is debt? It’s when you owe more than you can pay.
Some people think about money when they hear the word debt, but of all the things we could owe, it’s the easiest to pay back. There’s actually a story in the Big God Story about a man that owed money to his master, and he couldn’t pay it back. He owed his Master a great debt, but he couldn’t pay. He should have been thrown in jail, but his master forgave his debt. To forgive debt is to say that nothing is owed anymore, that you have a zero balance. Another word for the forgiving debt, is to have your debt redeemed.
This story isn’t really about a Master and the servant that owes money. It is really a story about our Master, God, and the servant, us, and what we owe. This story is actually a story about another kind of debt. The debt of our sin, and how our Master forgave us.
When we are going about our day, and we make a bad choice, we create our debt. We owe God for the mistake we made. If you were to sit down and make a list of all the bad choices we have ever made, you would discover that we each have a LOT of debt. I used to have a HUGE list of debt that I owed that could have wrapped around the room 16,000 times. Before Jesus, people used to repay their debts to God, their bad choices, by making sacrifices. For everything they owed they had to make a sacrifice. People would travel to the temple all the time to make sacrifices to try and pay off all their debt.
If you look in the Bible you will see that there are a lot of people in the Bible that owed debt, and how that debt was forgiven after Jesus came.
The first person I always think of is the woman that the crowd was going to stone. She owed so much debt that she could never hope to pay it off. She had made so many bad choices that the people of her town were coming to collect. They were going to throw stones at her until she died. She had no hope of ever having a zero balance. But then a miracle happened, someone stepped in to pay off her debt for her. He stepped in between her and the crowd, and she was saved. Jesus protected her, saved her life, and became her friend. She was so grateful for a second chance that she stayed with Jesus from that day forward.
There was also the thief on the cross. He had made so many bad choices, and had such a huge debt that they had put him on a cross next to Jesus the day Jesus was crucified. He didn’t believe that his debt could be forgiven, so he only asked Jesus to remember him. Jesus did more than remember him. He paid his debt off too, and promised to be with him in paradise. The thief was forgiven his debt to God, and was given a zero balance. Jesus did this knowing that the thief would never be able to do anything in return, but it didn’t matter. Jesus took his debt anyway.
Then of course, there is also Peter. Peter who used to make so many mistakes, but tried so hard. He made one of his biggest mistakes on the night before Jesus died. When the soldiers came to arrest his best friend he ran off. He left his friend. He left Jesus. When he came back, he found that they were beating Jesus up and asking him unfair questions. He was really afraid that those people would hurt him too, so when they asked if Jesus was his friend. He lied. He didn’t lie just once, but three times. He realized that he had created a big debt, and when Jesus died he knew he would never be able to make it right. Fortunately for Peter, Jesus didn’t stay dead. Jesus made time to come and see Peter after he was resurrected, and all of that debt was forgiven. So Jesus forgave all of Peter’s early debt, and the debt from the night he died. Peter was so grateful for his zero balance, that he became a super preacher and started sharing the message of Jesus with everyone he could find. He traveled all over telling people about forgiveness of debt to God. The first time he spoke about Jesus and His plan, 3000 people were forgiven their debt.
There are still more people in the Big God Story that had their debt forgiven. There are more people than I could possibly tell you about. There are so many that we could sit here for days, and we wouldn’t be able to tell you about all of them. So I will keep the list short. We are also people in the big God Story that have had our debt forgiven. Before I met Jesus I had a list of debt that was so long it could have wrapped around this whole building 12 times. But I was forgiven. Jesus separated me from my bad choices, my sin, as far as the East is from the West. When Jesus died on the cross he became the last and only sacrifice needed to pay our debt to God, and for everyone that believes in Him there is a zero balance waiting. Anyone that is willing to accept this gift will be able to face God and owe nothing. We will all get to be debt free.
He has removed our rebellious acts as far away from us as the east is from the west. – Psalm 103:12
Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” – Hebrews 10:17