Repurpose. Reconsider. Reevaluate. Regenerate. At the start of a new year, there are so many “re” words and concepts to consider. But one of them in particular has been on my mind all week: Redeem.
The dictionary definition says it means to buy or pay off, to recover something or to obtain a release for someone. As you might imagine, the New Testament definition is a little bit more complex.
Building off the concept of “buying back” the Bible stresses that two people are involved in that kind of transaction – the one doing the redeeming and the one redeemed. There is the person chained in slavery and the redeemer who sets them free.
Truthfully, we are all enslaved to sin. Only through Christ and His deliberate atoning sacrifice on the cross is there real freedom.
But that theology can seem a bit stilted until we put real people into the story.
Consider the family in Luke 15. We know the account as the parable of the lost son. But the biblical account actually begins with “There was a man with two sons…” We know the one boy was openly rebellious and the other was a selfish, self-righteous kid.
But the story actually hinges on the behavior of the father. He was the redeemer. He was in the business of buying back his boys from a life of empty sinfulness.
As the rebellious kid “got up and went to his father,” the Bible says, “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him. He (the dad) ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
The Biblical definition of redemption looks a lot like that moment in time. It looks like a father with a broken heart who longs to embrace his son. It looks like a dad who cares so very much that he spent part of every day up on a ridge looking down the road with the off chance that his wayward son might be coming home.
Redemption is both the motive and the act of God waiting on us to come home. He waits because He loves. He redeems because He can. He embraces and kisses because that’s what fathers do.
At the start of this New Year, there may be folks reading this note who just plain need to come home. Maybe there’s a son or daughter who has openly flaunted their sin and just needs to be redeemed. Or maybe it’s the child who has preformed in all the right ways, but their heart is far from God.
In either case, God’s word makes clear that our heavenly Father wants to redeem His loved ones unto Himself. He is incredibly motivated, has provided the means and stands ready to welcome all of us home.
If you know someone “wandering around” through life, remind them that the Lord waits to redeem them from a life of failure and shame. And pray for them.
And if you are feeling a bit displaced yourself, not sure of your standing with God, this is a great time to rehearse the message of that great old hymn by Fanny Crosby called “Redeemed.”
“Redeemed how I love to proclaim it. Redeemed by the blood of the lamb. Redeemed in His infinite mercy. His child and forever I am.”