Debt and an Inheritance

Pastor’s Perspective

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A part of what we are doing with this campaign is learning to understand who we are as the body, and what resources God has given us at this time and in in this place. That includes looking at people, at facilities, at money, and at debt, among other things. Let’s take a moment to think about debt from a theological point of view.

Our debt is not a mistake or a sin or something for which we need to be ashamed. Our debt is a sign of faith. What we need to do, as a congregation, is start to think about how to eliminate this debt so that we can step out in faith in other ways. Debt tends to cripple people into inaction and fear.

Debt in its essence is a promise to pay money to someone else tomorrow so that you can buy something now. At the risk of oversimplifying, debt is based on the faith that you will have the resources to pay for something later, but that you need the  resource now. As you know from Heather’s article, most all of our debt is for capital expenses, primarily our education building. So we made a promise to pay for our building over an extended period of time, knowing that we need the building now. The last loan we have will be paid off in 2048, or thirty years from now.

Now the Scriptures themselves don’t have a lot of positive things to say about debt. We even talk about debt as a synonym for sin. Matthew 6:12 says, for example, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Debt is used to get people to act out of unbelief or fear (1 Sam. 22:2), or to have them thrown into prison (Matt. 18:32-34). Maybe most importantly, we hear in Colossians 2:14 this important concept:

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”

In some respects, we could say that a debt is the opposite of an inheritance. And inheritance is receiving the benefit of another person’s life. So in Jesus, we have an inheritance in heaven, stored up for us by His own death and resurrection. What we do not receive is the punishment of sin that we deserve. He, quite simply, shows mercy to us, so that we do not have to pay what we, and our fore-bearers, owe to Him.

All of which brings us back to our congregational debt. We have this debt because we believe that Holy Cross has a future and a place here in Rocklin. We believe in the children of our community, whether they are members of our congregation or not. We have this debt because we want the coming generations to receive the inheritance of Jesus Christ and His life for us. And so we, as a congregation, have taken on this debt for the sake of the future of the Church in this place. 

This is a good, noble, and holy thing. It is important that we as a congregation get past the notion of thinking of our debt as a failure. It isn’t. It is a sign of faith. 

So how, then, do we act and move forward in wisdom with these decisions, and the decisions that will be made in the months and years ahead? Living as the Body of Christ is the beginning of our our answer to these questions. We have, as a part of our goal, reducing our congregational debt by $200,000 over the next three years. That is an amazing goal. It is also what I would call a good beginning. 

I do not want my own children to inherit this debt. I want them to be able to act in faith, not fear, as they look to see where the Gospel will be spread. I am convinced that a part of that means working on creative, long-term ways to eliminate our debt. 

God has blessed us richly here at Holy Cross. We can figure this out, sacrifice, and do it. I am certain of it.

-Pastor Peperkorn