Profile PictureMUSTARD SEED DISCIPLESHIP by McKay Caston

Why Jesus Doesn't Accept Donations: Grace is Free or Nothing

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“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water” - Hebrews 10:22 (NIV)


Years ago, a church where I was on staff hosted a community car wash. Since lots of car washes are fundraisers for sports teams or missions trips, we wanted to leverage the concept of free, setting us apart from the typical Saturday morning car wash.

This would be a no strings attached, no donations accepted car wash.

Our deep desire as a church was to impact our community with the gospel. They likely were not going to just walk in the door. But they probably would pull in the parking lot for a car wash.

I suppose we could have passed out gospel tracks or given out business cards with a QR code to our church website. But we didn’t hand out anything.

It really was a no strings attached, free, no donations accepted car wash. No expectations for them to do. Only receive.

We discovered that to make an impact, we didn’t have to do anything but serve our community. Call it pre-evangelism if you like. But we didn’t need to raise our voices to be heard. We didn’t organize a march or rant on social media (which didn’t exist then anyway). We didn’t even collect phone numbers or emails.

We wanted nothing from our community. We only wanted to give to them. To bless them with a clean car.

We’d do the work. They’d receive the blessing.

Remember, no strings. Totally free. No donations accepted.

You know what happened? The driver of almost every car that pulled in for a car wash asked a question and tried to make a donation.

Our commitment not to receive donations led to the question.

“Why are you doing this for free?”

That was all the set-up we needed to deconstruct what folks typically think of religion and to explain how the good news of Jesus is different.

As Tim Keller has taught us, “religion” (used in a pejorative sense) requires our donations to receive blessing. There is always something for us to do or contribute, either to earn good standing before God or to sustain it.

But the good news of Jesus is just the opposite, emphasizing that Jesus does all the work for us. All of it!

Like we washed the cars, he washes our souls.

As the car wash illustrates, this is a gift we can only receive. We do not deserve it and we cannot earn it. It must be received like the free car wash. No strings attached and no donations allowed.

The call to action for us is this.

Empty your hands and pockets of any religious pennies you may be tempted to contribute to the washing of your own soul. Do not get out of the car. But let Jesus wash you, freely and fully.

Eventually, as you begin to live as a spotless son or daughter of God, you’ll come to realize that the gospel, like the car wash, really isn’t free.

What is free for us comes at an infinite cost to Jesus.

While our church had to cover the cost of soap and water, Jesus gave his very breath and blood.

The attempt at any kind of contribution on our part to show that we’re capable not only diminishes the glory of grace but insults the finished work of the Savior. To put it bluntly, you will be cleansed from the filth of your sin by the blood of Jesus, or you will not be cleansed at all.

So beloved, be saved, but by grace alone. Be clean, but by grace alone. And boast in the cross, to God’s glory alone.


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