Believing that each of us falls (monumentally) short of the glory of God, it’s an excellent thing that – actually we do not get what’s coming to us. What we “deserve” is probably not pretty. Consider the fact that Jesus came in the form of a human baby not because we had been “such good boys and girls” ourselves, but because we had not.
We do not get what we deserve in this world.
This is true for those who us who receive much comfort and joy in life and those of us who don’t. This is true for those of us whose lives have been beset by poverty, illness, and abandonment and those of us whose lives have been blessed by wealth, health, and trusting relationships.
When billionaire Robert F. Smith spoke to the 2019 graduates of Morehouse College, he shocked the room by announcing that he was covering the college debts of any student graduating with debt. I remember asking a friend whose nephew was in that 2019 class at Morehouse if her nephew felt cheated because he had worked hard to get through college with no debt. She immediately replied, “No. He was happy for his classmates who were – by grace- given a gift that set them free.”
What gifts will we receive and what gifts will we give this week?
To be perfectly honest, all of us receive more than we deserve. I did nothing to find myself born into a white family who valued education and could afford summer vacations. I also had student debt that I didn’t pay off until I was 35 years old.
The national student loan debt in the United States reached $1.6 trillion in June 2019 according to this report.
Do I begrudge people whose parents paid 100% of their college expenses? I’m a little jealous – for sure – but good for them. Some of my friends in college had been blessed with savings accounts from grandparents or full scholarships based on merit. They are very fortunate.
Everyone I know who currently has or once had student debt worked in college to help cover expenses. They worked before college. And God knows they have worked after college and find themselves still struggling to pay off those student loans because the interest is killing them.
What if – in 2021 – all student debt was forgiven in this country? Or what if $10,000 of each person’s student debt was forgiven? Or what if the interest on each person’s debt was forgiven?
- Some will say, “This isn’t fair. I (or somebody in my family) worked hard to foot the bill for my college.”
- Some will say, “This will help the economy because young adults will finally be able to buy a home or save for their own children’s college.”
- Some will say, “Those students should pay the price for being irresponsible (or having irresponsible parents) who had to borrow money in the first place.“
Again, the truth is that none of us get what we deserve in terms of benefits or disadvantages in life. I did nothing to deserve to be born into a family with health insurance. My friend M didn’t deserve being born into a family that never took her to the doctor or dentist because they were both neglectful and had no health insurance.
Do we begrudge people for receiving blessings they did not earn? I hope not because this is called Grace and all of us need it. And all of us have it by virtue of the Incarnation of God which we celebrate on Christmas Day.
God didn’t come to earth because we were so good. God came to earth because God is good. And merciful. And gracious.
Merry Christmas Everyone.
Image of Sally from A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)