A great trade
- A great trade: one red paperclip for…
I don’t know whether you’ve heard of Kyle MacDonald, although you may have heard of what he did.
Kyle was a young man from America who, on the 12th of July 2005, started trading. Not trading shares, stocks or bonds. No – not good enough for Kyle. He decided to try to trade a red paperclip for a house. He owned the paperclip – he wanted to see if he could trade it for a house. No money was to change hands – just trading goods. His key was the idea of relative value – whilst something may be worthless and useless to me it may not be to someone else.
So Kyle started trading. This is how his trades went –
1 red paperclip for a fish-shaped pen
1 fish-shaped pen for a doorknob
1 doorknob for a Coleman outdoors stove
1 Coleman outdoors stove for a red generator
1 red generator for an instant party
1 instant party for a famous skidoo
1 famous skidoo for a trip to Yahk
1 trip to Yahk for a cube van
1 cube van for a recording contract
1 recording contract for a year in Phoenix
1 year in Phoenix for an afternoon with Alice Cooper
1 afternoon with Alice Cooper for a Kiss snowglobe
1 Kiss snow globe for a speaking role in a movie
1 speaking role in a movie for ….a house.
Yep, that’s right, after 14 trades, with no cash involved, Kyle ended up with a 2-storey house in Main St, Kipling, Saskatchewan. Isn’t that incredible – what an awesome trade – a paperclip for a house. You wouldn’t think it possible would you, but he did it. A paperclip for a house. What a great trade.
- A greater trade: sin for righteousness
Do you know the Bible tells us about an even greater trade? It’s the reason we celebrate Easter. A trade so unbelievable I only believe because God tells me it is true.
Did you hear it in that last reading we had from 2 Corinthians 5:21 – God made Jesus sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Jesus trades his righteousness for our sin. This is the greatest trade in history – and we can have it. So let’s just unpack it a little more before we consider what it means for us in 2007.
a) God made Jesus to be sin
We know that God hates sin. We know that God’s response to sin is his divine and perfect and just wrath and punishment. And we know, if we are really honest, that we sin.
ILLN – talking to a member of our congregation the other day about her parents who aren’t Christian. They are wonderful parents, full of love for their children and grandchildren and for one another, always seeking to do the right thing, living a moral life. But they’re not Christians – and in essence the reason why, humanly speaking, is that they don’t see their sin. They think they’re good enough for God. They’re not. And if you think you’re good enough for God – you’re not. God demands 100% devotion and obedience – and we can’t deliver that, no matter how good we are.
And so we deserve God’s punishment and wrath.
Now God has decreed that the punishment for sin is death. Gen 2:17 – don’t eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you shall surely die.’ And what happened – Adam and Eve ate, and eventually they died. They didn’t die because they were old – they died because they sinned.
But God also decreed that atonement was available, forgiveness was there, helaing could be had – if blood was shed. Which tells us how seriously God takes sin. Only blood can remove the barrier between us and God that our sin creates. So Heb 9:22 tells us ‘the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.’ But it had to be the blood, the life rather than a quantity of blood, of a perfect sacrifice. And to pay the price for a person, we need a sinless person to die for us. But who is up to such a task?
None of us. No one. Except God himself. As someone has written ‘ God did not punish an innocent ‘other’ but his innocent self. He does not require the blood of another, He offers his own.’
And so God’s eternal plan was to do something about it himself – to have God the Son come into our world, in the person of Jesus Christ, to be that perfect sacrifice. He is the only one who could do it. And he did. He lived a perfect life – he was as Bernard put it a ‘moral miracle’, and then gave up his life for us. Taking our sins on himself, even though he was sinless. Taking God’s wrath and punishment on himself that we deserved, even though he was innocent. So Heb 9:28 tells us ‘Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people.’ God made him who had no sin to be sin for us. And in him to then punish our sins as they deserve. It is an act of divine self-sacrifice. And he did it for us, because God loves us.
If there had been another way don’t you think God would have taken it. But there is no other way.
ILLN - The story is told of a meeting that happened in Chicago over 20 years ago now. It was a great meeting of leaders from every known religion, they came from all over the world. There were many long and well prepared speeches given, as you could imagine.
During one session, Dr. Joseph Cook, of Boston, suddenly rose and said, “Gentleman, I beg to introduce to you a woman with a great sorrow. Bloodstains are on her hands, and nothing she has tried will remove them. The blood is that of murder, and nothing will take away the stain. She has been driven to desperation in her distress. Is there anything in your religion that will remove her sin and give her peace and Hope? A hush fell upon the gathering as the speaker turned from one to another for an answer. Not one of the company replied.
Raising his eyes heavenward, Dr. Cook then cried out, “I will ask another question. John, can you tell this woman how to get rid of her awful sin?” The great preacher waited, as if listening for a reply…. Suddenly he cried, “Listen, John speaks: “the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 Jn. 1:7
Not a soul broke the silence; the representatives of Eastern Religions and Western cults sat dumb and silent. In the face of human need, they were without a message of hope. The Gospel of Jesus Christ alone can meet the need.
Friends, do you know, do you really know, in your heart of hearts the One who died in your place, who took on himself every single one of your sins, that you have ever done or ever will do. You can be free of the guilt and the shame and the punishment and the fear of sin, and stand before God as his forgiven child, because of what Jesus has done for you. No wonder it is called Good Friday.
b) God made us to be the righteousness of God
But the wonder of Jesus’ trade is not only that he takes our sins, but that he gives us his righteousness. Paul adds doesn’t he – ‘so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.’ This is God’s purpose in all he has done and all that Jesus did – that we might become the righteousness of God.
Jesus’ righteousness, his perfection, is credited to us, if we put our faith in him. But not just this – not that we merely stand declared righteous, but we are righteousness itself. Jesus became sin, we become righteousness – the righteousness of God. So one theologian put it a long time ago – ‘such are we in the sight of God the Father, as is the very son of God himself.’
c) It’s all about being in Jesus
It’s a great trade isn’t it. Far better than a red paperclip for a house. This is sin for righteousness. But it is only for those who are in Christ. Only for those who have accepted Jesus into their life as their Lord and Saviour. Only for those who have put their trust and hope in Jesus.
If that’s not you then when God looks at you he sees sinful you – as if in a mirror. But if you are in Christ, then when God looks at you he sees the mirror image as it were if Jesus.
Friends we need to keep remembering the significance of what Jesus did for us that first Easter. As we continue to understand more and more of the love of Jesus for us, so will our lives be more and more shaped to reflect the love of Jesus through us to others.
- Will you trade?