Recently, when handing out our booklets, a woman walked by me and loudly pronounced: “Salvation is free!” While I agree with the sentiment, the spirit in which she said it in was pretty nasty and self-righteous for a few reasons.
First, she had absolutely NO idea what our booklets are about. So that makes her statement very presumptuous. The fact that she didn’t care to ask what we were sharing in our literature, but instead ASSUMED that she “knew it already” is sadly a common theme with a lot of professing Christians. Professing Christians like this woman who chant loudly that salvation is “free” still tell people they need to”accept Jesus or go to hell” and go to church and pay their tithes. If salvation is truly free, why would someone need to do all these things? If someone gives me a free gift, I don’t go off and work to pay for it!
Second, I asked her why there are such things as christian bookstores and why they sell bibles if salvation is free. (She didn’t respond of course). You see, christians have no problem with “christian” bookstores that sell books on all sorts of “christian” topics. (They also tend to sell a lot of religious junk like cute little statues of angels, and candle holders with passages of scripture on them). But as soon as we get out there on the street and OFFER what we’ve written, we’re condemned by them all of a sudden for somehow (in their distorted thinking) “selling salvation.” For starters, we’re not selling anything! We hand our booklets out and ASK if people would be WILLING to donate anything simply for the cost of printing our material. (Sadly, our printer does demand that we pay a fixed price for printing our booklets). Selling our booklets, on the other hand, would mean that we are DEMANDING a certain price before we let someone have a booklet. This is definitely not the case. Can you see the difference? If people show a genuine interest in reading what we have written, but don’t have even a penny to share, of course will give it to them for nothing. This is one way we challenge our own greed. However, by asking that people share anything to help us with the cost of printing, we are challenging their greed.
A third reason why such a statement is hypocritical is a bit harder to explain, but hopefully you can follow the logic. When we share deeply with christians what Jesus taught about literally working for love instead of money, they usually give us all kinds of justifications as to why they believe God has “called” them to work in the job that they are currently receiving a paycheck from. They tell us they are in fact, “working for God” by working at McDonald’s, for instance. Nevermind that the atheists who work with them weren’t “called by God” to work there. The atheist is straight up about it: they are there for the money, and that’s it. When we ask whether or not one could be a drug dealer, “for God” they say no. What about being a prostitute, “for God” we ask them. Of course not, they reply. Those are definitely against God’s laws according to them. But when it comes to Jesus’ clear teachings about choosing to work for God OR money, somehow they can choose to spend their lives in clear contradiction by serving a paycheck instead of finding ways to share Jesus’ teachings with the whole world. (which is what Jesus told his followers to do, btw).
Now, assuming that one is “working for God” by working at McDonald’s, why then is salvation NOT free in this case? What I mean by this is that they stand behind a cash register and charge people for everything they order. (Stay with me now!) First off, they aren’t sharing the Gospel with anyone they are selling hamburgers to, as that’s not part of their job description. So if they can’t share the good news with anyone through words, why not show it through actions, by giving the items on the menu away for anything the customer could pay, or not pay? (Like we do with our booklets). If they are working for God, as they say, why do they not believe that God will take care of their needs, as he says? (See Matthew 6:24-34)
The simple truth is that the salvation they claim is free is definitely NOT free when they are the ones “working for God.” They feel it is their duty and obligation to charge whatever the fixed price is. And in fact they are right. But they are right to CHARGE others for what they do and sell because that is what keeps the system running, and working for the system is not working for God in any stretch of the imagination. So the question remains, where is this “free salvation” they have told us about?