Several years ago, when my kids were in High School, one of them showed up with this thick book called “Crime & Punishment” from the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
I joked that when I was a student in Brazil I also had to read that book, but it was thinner and the title was just “Crime”.
I made this comment because a lot goes unpunished in Brazil due to the extremely high level of corruption.
Then, more recently I read a very interesting perspective: Timothy Keller, in his book “King’s Cross” states that somebody always has to pay the price for something done wrong.
He gives an example. Here is how I recollect it:
Some friends come to your house to visit.
Their young boy is running around and suddenly he hits this expensive table top lamp. It falls on the floor and breaks in thousands of pieces. Irreparable.
Who should pay for it? The child is the one that broke the lamp, so he should pay, but obviously he doesn’t have any money. He can’t pay for the lamp.
Your friend immediately volunteers to pay for it, but you know he can’t afford the expensive lamp. He can’t pay for it.
At this point you are thinking that nobody will pay for it. You will just take the loss.
That is the key: “you will take the loss”; the consequence is still there. You end up being the one that pays for it.
So, what Timothy Keller is trying to communicate is that crime always has punishment, even if the one paying the price is not the guilty party.
I guess if I apply that to the government corruption, and dishonest politicians that accept bribes to allow someone to get away with a crime, it will be the common citizen, the taxpayer who will end up paying the price for that.
On the spiritual level, sin has broken our relationship with God. While sin is present the consequence is separation from our Creator, because He can’t accept sin in His presence.
Sin is the crime and separation from God is the punishment. We can’t pay the price for our sin, like the child and the friend in the illustration.
That is when God comes and offers an alternative: What if someone else could pay for the sin? That would eliminate the need for our punishment.
Our redemption is not free. Christ had to come and die to pay the price for our sin. It is because He did it that our debt is paid for, so we can have an eternal relationship with God.
Here is an alternative title for this article: “There No Such Thing As A Free Lunch””