This morning I got a shocking revelation of how serious the inflation problem really is. A report in my morning newspaper revealed the true gravity of the situation. I'm sure all of you are familiar with the old song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas". My Mamaw Adkins use to quote it (not sing it) to me when I was just a little guy. It is one of my earliest memories - and rare memories of her. She died when I was five years old. I didn't really know much about why someone would be giving someone else partridges in a pear tree, leaping lords, or milking maids. Furthermore, I never gave the first thought to the cost of such items. However, the news report from PNC Bank that I read this morning indicated how inflation has affected the cost of the gift items mentioned in the song. According to the report, the cost of the items has gone up 8% in the past year alone! Here is a rundown of the present costs:
A Partridge - $15 (I assume one has to supply their own Pear Tree)
2 Turtle Doves - $40
3 French Hens - $45
4 Calling Birds - $599.96
5 Gold Rings - $395
6 Geese a-laying - $360
7 Swans a-swimming - $4,200
8 Maids a-milking - $46.80
9 Ladies dancing - $4,759
10 Lords a-leaping $4,285.06
11 Pipers piping - $2,213.40
12 Drummers drumming - $2,397.85
You can get more information on this (if you are so inclined and have nothing better to do) at http://pncchristmaspriceindex.com.%20the/The point is, that everything seems to be going up in price, and our dollar is losing it's value on international markets. We'll see the effects of this on our mission trip to the Philippines in about a month. Three years ago the exchange rate was 55 Philippine Pesos to one American dollar. Now the rate is 44/1. This makes a difference in how much we can help them financially, and in the purchasing power we have to meet certain needs of those churches.
Consumer prices are on the rise and folks are being adversely impacted by the pinch. This past summer, my associate pastor, Randy Spurgeon, purchased a motorcycle. Randy lives about 25 miles from the church and he claimed that he could save a lot of money on gas by riding a motorcycle instead of his pickup truck. That's probably true, but the purchase may have been at least partially motivated by other factors (Randy turned 50 this year). Midlife crises notwithstanding, inflation is a serious problem for all of us. Especially those on fixed incomes.
In spite of all that, isn't it wonderful that the cost of the most important need that everyone shares has not gone up in the past 2,000 years? Salvation is FREE. Those of us who have trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior have the benefits of:
- Forgiven sin
- A personal relationship with God
- A new inward power
- Peace that goes beyond human understanding
- Joy that cannot be described in words
- Family relationship with other believers
- Eternal life
- An ultimate home in Heaven.
The cost to us? Zero, nada, bupkus, zilch!
Think of it. All of these benefits (and more) cost us nothing! All that is required of us to receive these blessings is our willingness to put our trust in Christ. Acknowledging that we are sinful by our very nature, believing that He died to pay the penalty for our sins, and confessing Him as our Savior and Lord.
Some might say, "That sounds too good to be true." Others, "There is no such thing as a free ride." or "Nothing that good could be free. There must be some strings attached."
Well, those of us who are Christ followers know that while this great gift comes to us from our Creator free of charge - it is far from cheap. It came at a great cost to God. It cost Him his one and only son. The Apostle Peter sums it up this way in 1 Peter 1: 18-19:
"Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, [as] silver and gold, from your vain conversation [received] by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ without blemish and without spot."