Yesterday during youth group, I noticed a book on a shelf called “Who Switched The Price Tags?” I’d never heard of it before, but I picked it up because it was written by one of my favourite authors, Tony Campolo. I flipped through it quickly and very randomly decided to read a page. This is what I read:
During the Vietnam conflict, a young graduate of West Point Academy was sent to Vietnam to lead a group of new recruits into battle. He did his job well, trying his best to keep his men from ambush and death. However, one night he and his men were overtaken by a battalion of the Viet Cong. He was able to get all but one of his men to safety. The one soldier who had been left behind had been severely wounded. From their trenches, the young lieutenant and his men could hear their wounded comrade moaning and crying for help. They all knew that venturing out into the vicious crossfire of the enemy would mean almost certain death. But the groanings of the wounded soldier continued on through the night. Eventually, the young lieutenant could stand it no longer. He crawled out of his protected area toward the cries of the dying man. The lieutenant got to him safely and was able to drag him back. But just as he pushed the wounded soldier into the safety of the ditch, he himself caught a bullet in the back and was killed instantly.
Several months later, the rescued man returned to the United States. When the parents of the dead hero heard that he was in their vicinity, they planned to have him come to dinner. This young man’s life had cost them a great deal and they wanted to get to know him. On the night of the dinner party, their guest arrived drunk. He was loud and boisterous. He told off-color jokes. He showed no concern for his suffering hosts. The parents of the dead hero did the best they could to make it a worthwhile evening, but their efforts failed. At the end of that torturous visit, the obscene guest left. As her husband closed the door, the mother collapsed in tears, saying, “To think that our precious son had to die for somebody like that.” The young soldier owed those parents the best that was in him. It was evil for him to give so little thought to what they had lost because of him. Considering the price that had been paid for his life, his ingratitude was beyond comprehension.
But we are just like him – Jesus died for us, yet we continue to neglect him. We fail to reflect on the cost of our salvation.
As I said to Nuni today, reading that story was like getting a brick in the face. I’ve heard my whole life that “Jesus died for me” – but sometimes when you hear something so much, it loses its meaning. Reading this story gave me a whole new perspective. I just stood there thinking, “God, I am so sorry… I am such a sinner. I am selfish and I am prideful… I’m gonna try harder to be better.” I’m definitely gonna sin again… probably today… I probably already have… but I think that knowing this – that Jesus died for a sinner like me – is gonna motivate me to try a little harder.