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The Price of Clearing Your Browser History

posted Oct 1, 2014, 1:41 PM by Kelly Griffin   [ updated Oct 1, 2014, 1:42 PM ]
A recent “Pearls Before Swine” cartoon strip shows a mouse with this cell phone. A message displays: “Clear Recent Calls,” and the mouse deletes them. That is followed by “Clear Browser History” and “Delete All Texts”, both of which he deletes. Finally up comes, “Erase Every Bad Thing You’ve Ever Done in Your Life”. The mouse hits delete and declares, “Smart phones just get better and better!”

Wouldn’t it be nice if guilt could be dealt with that easily?! But life itself teaches us that every offense exacts a price. If someone breaks your new 60” TV screen, either they will pay by buying you a new one, or you will pay if you let them off. But someone pays! The price becomes significantly higher in emotional terms if the offense was deliberate.

But when the offense is against an infinite God, as every offense ultimately is, the penalty for “every bad thing” becomes infinitely greater than we could ever pay. Thankfully, the Bible teaches that what a loving God demands, He also provides. It teaches the guilt of our sin was paid for by the death and resurrection of God’s own Son, Jesus Christ. Substitutionary atonement.

That’s a teaching that is on hard days. Pastor Jeffrey Johns says, “It is an insane and cruel doctrine.” Emergent church leader Brian McLaren says it “makes God out to be a butcher.” And theologian Steve Chalke memorably stated that it amounts to “cosmic child abuse.” The general contention is that the concept of a substitutionary sacrifice is a pagan leftover, derived from
ancient rituals aimed at appeasing the gods. But this fails to take into account that in paganism the sacrifice is always an attempt by man to earn favor with some god. In Christianity, the concept is totally different. It is God paying the price of our violation of His character. Remember every offense exacts a payment by someone, and atonement is God paying the price for anyone who will believe.

Furthermore, those who call this “child abuse” have not considered the cost to the Father. Years ago, a man named John Griffiths controlled a railroad drawbridge over the Mississippi River. One day in 1937, 8-year-old son, Greg, accompanied John to work. At noon, John raised the bridge to allow ships through and sat with his son to eat lunch. Time got away and John was startled to hear the whistle of the 1:07 Memphis Express approaching the raised bridge. He leaped to the control tower, but just before throwing the switch he heard a cry from below. Glancing down he saw that Greg had fallen into the massive gears. His leg was caught between two cogs and he could not get loose. There was no time for a rescue. When Greg could not pull loose, John was faced with an unthinkable dilemma – save his son, or the 400 passengers on the Express. Sobbing violently, John pulled the switch.

Shortly, the train passed in safety. John saw businessmen casually reading their papers, ladies sipping tea, and children eating their ice cream – all oblivious to the price that son and father had paid for their safety. The price for salvation is high. We reject it because we understand neither the infinite holiness of God nor our own sinfulness. We acknowledge guilt, but not sin. We say the guilt is false and suppress it, deny it, repress it – anything but confess it. Yet in the Bible, even the most holy of men fell as dead in God’s presence (Isa 6:5; Ezek 1:28; Dan 10:9; Rev 1:17). That’s the same God we will all face one day when
we’ll know immediately most guilt was real.

There’s great news, however. It is illustrated by the verdict exacted by a persuasive lawyer for a man who was clearly guilty. The jury foreman rose and solemnly declared “We find the man who stole that horse not guilty.” Based on Jesus’ death in our place, that is exactly what the Father does for all who put full trust in Him.

Dave McNeff is pastor of the First Congregational Church of Eaton (

Published in The Tribune on October 4th, 2014.