by Ron Briley
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The sign in my booth at the monthly antique show reads, “We Buy Junk, And Sell Antiques.” It gets some laughs and comments from the customers, but in all honesty, it means what it says. The years of going to garage sales, auctions, junk stores, and other outlets of treasures have helped me develop an eye for items that I can buy at a inexpensive price, and resell for a profit. I learned long ago that buying used items comes with the risk of parts missing, flaws, broken pieces, or scratches and dents. Many sellers of such items will label their merchandise with a tag that says, “As Is.” Seeing the tag with those words brings decision time for me. I know I am getting a good price, but there will be some time and work required for restoration and repairs. Do I want to invest that time and expense to bring the item to an acceptable condition?
I am thinking today about how God must have asked similar questions when it came to the restoration of his people. We do have our flaws, our scratches and dents, our broken pieces. We have allowed our decisions and circumstances to leave us in an “As Is” condition. In our world we rub shoulders daily with lots of people, all of which could be wearing that label…..As Is.
One of the greatest blessings we learn about the love of God … in spite of our condition, in spite of our past, and in spite of battles we continue to fight, his invitation is still given for us to be a recipient of his grace and mercy and forgiveness. The restoration of man is as old as time itself. In the greatest mystery of the universe, Jesus is described as the one that was slain from the foundations of the world. That means before there was ever a sinner, there was already a savior. It means that in the overall plan of God, he knew our struggles with sin; he knew of our blunders; he knew that we like Paul would sometimes have the desire to do what is right, but end up doing wrong. But his love for us made the provision that was necessary to restore us to newness again. We do not have to continue being “As Is.”
We get a glimpse of God’s love in the birth of a baby in a stable near Bethlehem, and we follow the life of that child as he develops into a marvelous teacher. His message is quite different than we may expect as we hear him say things like, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man comes to the Father, except by me.” Or, when he encourages us to treat others the way we wish to be treated. He even told religious folks one day, “You need to go learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’” His parables bring us to see in depth messages from simple daily examples. Surely we agree with the one who said, “No man ever spoke like this man.” Ultimately, Jesus went to the cross and gave his life; an act which we have come to learn was necessary to pay the price for the sins of the world. His death, burial, and resurrection bring the good news that we do not have to carry the burden of sin with us any longer. He makes us new!
When I buy an oak table that has parts and pieces broken or missing, I know before I can make a profit on that purchase, I must glue the legs back on, find a piece of oak and make a rung from scratch, sand the table top to make it perfectly smooth, and then stain and varnish the wood to bring out a durable and beautiful finish. Sounds like a lot of work, and sometimes it is. I accepted the challenge because I knew what that junky old table could become. It was “As Is” but it wasn’t going to stay that way. I knew I could make it good as new.
Because of God’s love for you and me, and the gift of his son, we come to receive God’s invitation to pay the price for all of us in our “As Is” condition. He loves us “As Is” but his plans to make us new again..The purchase price for your sins and mine was the blood of Jesus. We are made new, and carry with us the assurance that he will be with us always. Yes, we are loved that much.
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