January 12, 2017
It was one of the coldest days that Chicago has experienced this winter; single-digit temperatures with strong winds. But the weather didn’t keep people from waiting in a long line for tickets. They were there for hours before the doors would open and within minutes they were no longer letting people get in line because all the tickets were gone.
They were in line to get tickets for Tuesday night’s farewell address by President Obama in McCormick Place. Free tickets!
Within minutes of the tickets being made available, they were being sold online. Some for as much as $5,000 per ticket. Hold it, weren’t these free tickets? Yup. But the American economic system kicked into high gear. Supply and demand…low supply and high demand mean that prices go up. Apparently, that means from free to $5,000.
It was reported that many people stood in line for the free tickets as a pure business opportunity. They had no intention of attending the speech, but speculated that demand would be high. They capitalized on an opportunity.
A similar thing took place in Chicago late in the fall when the Cubs were in the World Series. Tickets were being sold online for $10-15,000 over face value or more! It was the perfect storm of low supply, high demand accompanied by a historical moment. How much is a once in a life time moment worth?
If you dig back into church history, you will discover that church leaders sold indulgences (a way to reduce the amount of suffering one would have to endure for their sins). The demand was high. People were desperate to have their punishment reduced and so the price was high. The selling of indulgences was one of the things that Martin Luther pointed out as being unbiblical when he led the Reformation. Luther pointed out that the Bible teaches that God forgives us freely of our sins and we are set free from ongoing punishment by his mercy, which is also free.
You can never underestimate the genius of people to make money.
We have a problem with free. Organizations believe that you must charge something for their goods and services, because you get what you pay for, and something that is free cannot be very helpful.
Grace is God’s unmerited favor. We cannot earn it. We don’t have to do anything to receive it. We simply must accept God’s love and forgiveness. Our salvation is free. It is something we can profess and believe in, but it is hard for us to accept. “It can’t be that easy. We must have to do something. Go to church, pray, give money to the church. We must have to do something.” Or we make worship attendance, Bible study, prayer and other activities the way we earn God’s favor.
We have God’s favor. We go to worship, we study the scripture, we pray, etc. as a way of expressing our gratitude for God’s grace and learning how to best reflect the image of Christ.
For some reason, free is not our friend.
Some people paid $5,000 for free tickets. I’ll accept God’s grace freely!