This isn't Political
Every now and then, I have an article or sermon topic where I just know I’m going to ruffle some feathers and get feedback. This is one of those articles. But it shouldn’t be. So, before I even start, let me be perfectly clear, this article has nothing at all to do with politics. I am neither for or against anything on this subject and I’m not asking you to be for or against anything. I am, however, asking you to deepen your spiritual understanding and to do some self-reflection. Again, this article is using politics but not about politics.
Student loan forgiveness.
That’s probably as much as I needed to say to get a reaction from you. It is my experience, that most Christians have pretty strong opinions on this subject. Most of my friends do, anyway. It seems that the government has the right to offer forgiveness and the right not to. It is under no obligation, and I’m not saying one outcome is more appropriate than the other. But how Christians have approached the subject—their reasoning—might be a cause for spiritual concern.
It hit me one day, isn’t it odd that so many Christians are against forgiveness? What a strange place to find ourselves. Here we are, teaching a gospel that is built on the principle that Jesus died to forgive our debts, and yet, there is an outcry of injustice when forgiveness is offered to others. “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32). Isn’t it odd, that we’ve been forgiven but so many of us do not want others to be forgiven. Sure, Ephesians is talking about forgiveness of sins, and the current political plans are about forgiveness of a monetary debt, but are those two concepts so far removed? Jesus used the one to illustrate the other (Mt. 18:21-35).
“But,” I’m told, “the students knew what they were doing when they agreed to the debts. They don’t deserve forgiveness.” True enough. But what about us? Are we somehow arguing that we deserve to be forgiven of our sins?
“But,” it’s argued, “they foolishly wasted their loan money on frivolous degrees which would never pay them back enough to repay their debts.” I’m sure that’s true of at least some of the people in debt. Then again, we have gone into spiritual debt following after dead works (Heb. 6:1) and passing pleasures of sin (Heb. 11:25). We all chose to bankrupt our souls for the sake of actions that, without exception, were not worth the consequence. Are we so different than the students in debt? Will we show no mercy to sinners if “they should have known better”?
“But,” I’ve heard many complain, “it isn’t fair that the students are forgiven when I’ve had to work so hard to pay off my debts.” I can’t be the only one who has heard that one. In fact, I find it resonates with me. There is a great injustice. Some have paid while others have not! That is not fair. Take that feeling, and memorize it. That is the feeling of self-righteousness. Is that not exactly how the Pharisee would have responded if he’d heard that the tax collector was forgiven (Lk. 18:9-14)? The Pharisee had been so careful to avoid sin and done regular righteous deeds, but the sinful tax collector was somehow the one to go home justified? That isn’t fair, right? Is that not the same reasoning of the Prodigal son’s brother? “Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him” (Lk. 15:29-30). Think about that. Doesn’t that argument sound just a tad bit familiar?
You can be opposed to student loan forgiveness and still be a Christian. As much as it may come across otherwise, I’m not saying student loan forgiveness is a good idea. But the reasoning I’ve heard against it, calls into question whether we really appreciate the forgiving nature of the Gospel. Using such reasoning, will we really welcome a deeply depraved sinner into our arms when he asks for forgiveness? Or, have we accidentally slipped into being more like the prodigal son’s brother and the self-righteous Pharisee?
The question can be boiled down to this – Are we who we think we are?