WORDS FROM W.W. October 1, 2009
“Changing The Terms”

The snail mail has been pretty uneventful at home recently. Magazine subscription offers, Albertson grocery weekly specials, Geico…box stuffers like that. Our recycling can has been overflowing!
I thought when postage stamp rates increased recently it would increase the amount of quality mail, and decrease the amount of “paper fodder”, but I was wrong.
This week I got something from my credit card company. It looked like any other piece of excess baggage mail, primed for deposit in our “green can”. Instead of ripping it in half, however, I thought that maybe…possibly…perhaps it would have some kind of special offer inside, so I opened it!
What I “discovered” (That’s a clue on the credit card!) is that my annual percentage rate was being increased. Here’s a quote: “We will increase your APRs for purchases and balance transfers to the variable default APR of the Prime Rate + 22.99%, but such rate will never exceed 29.99%.” In other words, “we hope you don’t open this piece of mail and treat it as junk, and then not pay off your balance so we can jack you up for some easy extra cash.” (My translation!)
Naturally this comes before Congress can put into law the 800 pages of new guidelines and procedures for credit card companies to follow so people don’t get taken to the cleaners. Of course, it IS reasonable to expect someone to pay off their balance each month, but many of us have had that sudden lean month that has left us exposed…and now we will exposed for a longer amount of time as we try to catch up.
When I first got this credit card these were not the terms. In fact, I think we got a new toaster or steak knives or a battery-operated clock (battery not included). The terms have been changed, and either I can agree to them or I can call to say that I reject them. Of course, this is how it’s worded: “If you notify us prior to the Effective Date that you choose to reject these increases, we will close your Account and you will no longer be able to use it for further transactions!”
I guess you could say I’m a little perturbed by it.
And yet, isn’t that what we often do to people who are thinking about following Jesus? We make the terms simple, inviting, and loving. No free toaster, but there is often an invitation to the next chili supper.
Seriously, we offer the good news about Jesus in non-judgmental, uncritical, positive words.
But sometimes the person accepts those terms- accepts Jesus- becomes a follower, becomes a part of our church fellowship…and then the terms get changed.
“Yes, we know we talked about being saved by grace through faith, but…there’s a few other conditions that we become convinced are now added “interpretations” of what that all means.”
• “Give money…a lot of it!”
• “Be on a committee.”
• “Be in a class, a group, in worship.”
• “Achieve your monthly quota of how many people you’ve invited to come to church.”
• “Use spiritual verbage when you talk.”
• “Attend all church fundraising events.”
• “Be on a mission team…in another country (Close to home missions doesn’t count!)”
• “Eat donuts and drink weak coffee.”
• “Be a patron of Christian businesses.”
• “If you’re a Christian business person, give freebies to the church.”
Yes, I’m a wee bit cynical…but also a good bit right on target. We are often guilty of changing the terms. Grace can’t be that easy, because then anyone could say they were a Christian. (Cynicism attack again!)
There is something incredible about being a faithful follower of Christ. It’s worth it. It’s humbling. It becomes a ever-growing longing.
And there is also something fatal about adding fine print to the contract of the cross of Christ. As a friend of mine says quite often pointing at his bible opened to one of the gospels, “What’s it say in the red print? That’s what’s important.”
The “red print” is where we need to be.

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One Comment on “”

  1. Friar_Tuck Says:

    Consider yourself lucky that you can opt out. I tried to close my account and keep the old interest rate to pay it off. No luck.


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