Pay It Forward

Pastor Asafa Rajaofera

Pay It Forward

3 mins
November 2, 2021

Pay It Forward is a movie that portrays a 11-year-old boy named Trevor who takes seriously his social studies assignment: Think of an idea to change the world and take action. So, he comes up with this plan: he is going to help 3 people that truly are in need and really can’t help themselves. In return, they agree to pass on the good deed to three other people and keep the cycle going. One good deed might not seem like much, but if everyone did something good for someone else, then the cycle of generosity and kindness can spark us to become better people. 

The social studies teacher questions the students: what does the world expects of you? Nothing! Trevor replies. The teacher agrees. They’re just kids. In a way they’re imprisoned but not forever. They will be free. When they are free, what if the world disappoints them? What if the world isn’t what they expect it to be? Then we’re screwed! Chimed one student. Unless you take the things you don’t like about this world and you flip it upside down. Think of an idea to change the world and take action. 

And that’s what God did. He saw how messed up our world is. “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth so that He may support those whose heart is completely His”. “God looks down from heaven on humans to see if anyone is wise, to see if anyone seeks God. But all have turned away. Everyone is corrupt. No one does good— not even one person!” So, if somebody doesn’t do something, humanity is screwed. We’re in big trouble. But thank God, he loves us so much, he thought of a brilliant plan to save the world. He sent his one and only son Jesus Christ to save us. Save us from what exactly? What do we need saving from? People want to be saved from many things: poverty, disease, divorce, pain, shame, failure, death. And they want God to save them. But many, do not understand that their greatest need is to be saved from sin. All of us are born into this world S.I.N. positive. This condition is terminal 100% of the time. Death is the certain outcome and there is no cure apart from salvation in Christ. “For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

We went on a family vacation a couple year back. I think I was in 7th or 8th grade. It was a nice resort with an indoor pool. My brothers, my sister, and I would go swimming almost daily during our stay there. None of us were good swimmers. One time my sister was on one of those floating things, drifted and got stuck in the middle of the pool. I wanted to show off so I told her I am going to save her. By the time I reached her, I was out of breath, so I turned around and wanted to swim to shore. But she grabbed the strap of my swimsuit and didn’t let go. I panicked and started to drown. I remember yelling for help. I saw my younger brother on shore, and he threw this round floating ball toward me but that’s not what I needed. I wanted out of the pool. My father jumped in and saved me. 

Notice in my story, I didn’t want the floating ball my younger brother was throwing at me. His intentions were good. If I grabbed that ball, I could stay afloat and still be in the pool. But that’s the thing. I don’t want to be IN the pool any longer. I am done swimming. I didn’t need saving IN the pool, I needed saving FROM the pool. I want out and dry myself off and go home. 

Many people want a spiritual floating ball like my brother threw at me so they can be saved from drowning in their pool of sin. They want to stay in the pool. They want to continue in sin. 

Jesus told the scribe here in our gospel: You are not far from the kingdom of God. What is that supposed to mean? How come he is not in the kingdom of God? Because he didn’t see himself as a sinner in need of a savior. He was an expert in God’s law. He was very smart and probably knows the Bible way better than all of us combined. And yet he is not in the kingdom of God. It is not our knowledge about God that will save us. The demons know the Bible and they are not saved. Do we know about God or do we know God? If we know God we will walk in obedience according to his Word. And that’s why the scribe is not in the kingdom of God. For him it was all intellectual and not spiritual. To him God is an object of study and not worship. It’s a point of conversation and debate. A hobby. And for many people that’s what God is. They just like to think about God. They can even know the Bible inside out. But they’ve never allowed the word of God to change them. And that’s where the difference is. How do you see Jesus? Is he a teacher or a savior? Do you see him for who he truly is and what he did or do you just admire him for what he taught? The scribe was so close. He literally was standing in front of the one who can save him from the crushing weight of the Law and he missed it. Being close to the kingdom of God means you are still out of the kingdom of God. 

Let’s not miss Jesus. If you think you’re far from the kingdom of God and you want in, it’s not too late yet. To come to Jesus in faith and in trust. To lay everything down at his feet and to ask for a new life. He’s ready to welcome you in. The kingdom of God is for repenters. If you can repent and admit your need for Jesus, the kingdom of God can be yours. Jesus is God’s plan to save our messed-up world. To save humanity. For us in the kingdom of God, what are we doing to pay it forward? Are we walking in obedience to God’s word? Because that is what it means to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind. What are we doing to pay it forward? Are we loving our neighbor as ourselves?

This article was orginally reported by
Pastor Asafa Rajaofera

Rev. Asafa Rajaofero was born in Madagascar and serves as pastor of the United Church of Christ parishes in Greenwood and Owen, Wisconsin.