Perhaps you’ve seen the scene in a movie or read it in a book: in a distant culture, one man saves another’s life. From that point forward, the saved serves the saver. He might as well; he would be dead without him, with no life to live. The one who was rescued literally owes his life—and pays it—to the one who rescued him.
That’s not a bad picture of redemption. Jesus saved our lives; we’d be lost, essentially and eventually dead, and hopeless without him. Only he overcame death, and only he acts as God’s agent of forgiveness. We could try to live without him—many of us have—but we end up in frustration and futility, and without any chance of restoration into our original design in God’s kingdom. He literally rescued us from complete loss.
So why not live for him? We can’t repay him, of course, but the testimony of scripture is that he bought us. We belong to him. When we live for him, we are not only giving what’s due to one who is worthy; we’re putting ourselves in the care of one who has our best interests at heart and can deliver on them. We are being restored to the image of God and stepping into our created purpose.
When we truly understand our redemption and restoration, we gladly cease living for ourselves. We know whom we belong to. We live for him in gratitude and unbreakable hope. He didn’t just give us back our lives; he gave us his. And it’s better than anything we had before.