In the 1960’s and 70’s, before customer loyalty cards and online discount coupons, there were redemption stamps – Blue Chip, S&H Green Stamps and others. When you purchased any product or service you could receive stamps based on the amount of your purchase. It is said that even some Funeral Homes and brothels gave stamps as incentive to customers.
Every time we bought groceries, gas or about anything else we were handed a batch of stamps. At home I licked the stamps and put them in the redemption books I was collecting. About a year into my marriage I had finally collected enough Blue Chip Stamp books. I was just about giddy as I drove to the nearest Blue Chip Stamp Redemption Center. There I looked at a catalog and the clerk ordered me two brand new tennis rackets that arrived a week later. I traded a pile of paper, ink and spit for my new tennis rackets. That is redemption — trading something of seemingly little value for something of greater value.
In California, when you purchase soda cans or bottles you are charged a “redemption fee.” Basically you pay up front for the use of recyclable materials like plastic, glass and aluminum. When the cans or bottles are empty you turn them into a recycling/redemption center and you get money! The containers are no longer of any use to me but they are worth something to others. I have a friend who collects recyclables for woman he met at a park who uses that as her sole means of income. She was homeless and now has a place to live. I keep my recyclables and give them to him, for her. What has little to no value for me has great value to her. That, too, is redemption.
Forgiveness can be a form of redemption. You trade bitterness for peace and offer others freedom from your judgment. Financial assistance, given or received, offers redemption from the weight of heavy debt. Even a meal given to a hungry person is an offer to exchange their lack for your plenty. Redemption is looking at all we have and offering it to those for whom it can be a life-changer. When we are in need of redemption, it is our willingness to accept what is offered in the name of love and mercy.
Of course the greatest redemption story of all time and for all time is the exchange of our brokenness for God’s wholeness, our limitations for His limitless love and power, our fear for His peace, our depression for His hope…. I could go on for hours like this. If you know anything of the Christmas story and the Easter story, you know about Jesus. Born in a stable and nailed to a cross. His story and His life are all about redemption.
Redemption is my story…
I’ve shared enough of my story in these Snapshots that you know of abuse, poverty, alcoholism, marriage issues and so much more that was a part of my younger life. I am not the sum total of all of that brokenness. Why? Redemption. I chose to offer this mess that is me (paper, ink and spit, if you will) to the One who makes all things new. I have not one day been sorry I made the exchange. His life for me and in me is much sweeter than anything I could have planned or pulled off.
Whatever your life story may be, and whatever your faith history may be, what does redemption look like for you? Is there an area of your life that could use redeeming? Is there a way you could use your skills and resources to offer someone hope and even redemption? Whatever days you and I have on this planet, what we do for the sake of others gives more purpose in life than almost anything else. And when our days here come to a close, redemption through Jesus is what guarantees our eternity.
2 Corinthians 8:12 Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have.
Romans 12:7-8 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
Proverbs 25:21 If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them water to drink.
Job 19:25 But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last.
Psalm 111:9 He has paid a full ransom for his people. He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever. What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!
Isaiah 43:1-2 But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you, I have called you by name; you are mine.
2 When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
Romans 3:22-25 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.
Colossians 1:13-14 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.
1 Peter 1:18-21 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 20 God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake. 21 Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.