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Terms and conditions no longer apply
Amber Albee Swenson
by Amber Albee Swenson
March 18, 2024

A while back I bought airplane tickets to speak at an event later this spring. I would fly in one day, speak that evening and the following morning, and return home the following night.

A few days after buying the ticket, I received an email alerting me that my flight had changed. I wasn’t concerned because I fly regularly, and flight schedules often change, sometimes three or four times before takeoff.

But when I opened the email, the change put me on a 6 a.m. flight instead of the 2 p.m. one I had scheduled. Again, not a problem. I would just cancel the first flight and get ground transportation to the connecting flight I had purchased.

When I tried to do this, I found the airline had put me on an earlier connecting flight and to get on the original flight would cost an additional $1,100.

A call to the airline confirmed I would have to buy a first-class ticket if I wanted to stay on the flight I had booked because my seat had been released and presumably purchased by someone else when they changed my flight.

I asked how they could do that, and the response was simple: terms and conditions. You know, that little box we check before purchasing things or using things. That box with a link next to it that takes us to pages and pages and pages of legal notifications has the final say. If you check the box, you are in bondage to the conditions you agreed to, whether you understand the conditions or not.

The Old Testament book of Zechariah chapter 3 begins: “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him” (verse 1).

Satan knows the terms and conditions: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The standard is perfection. Anyone who grumbles in his mind, lusts in her heart, takes what isn’t theirs, exaggerates the truth, thinks an unholy thought, or says a word other than that standard falls short of perfection. The wages, the debt, the price owed is eternity in hell with Satan and all the other fallen angels. It’s a box we all checked when we inherited a sinful nature at conception.

Satan knew that, so when Joshua stood before the Lord, Satan was prepared with his list. And Satan wasn’t wrong.

“Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel” (Zechariah 3:3). Joshua was guilty and even God could see it.

“The angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Take off his filthy clothes.’

“Then he said to Joshua, ‘See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.’

“Then I said, ‘Put a clean turban on his head.’ So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by” (Zechariah 3:4,5).

Even before he came to earth, Jesus, referred to as the angel of the Lord in the Old Testament, was preemptively rescuing his people. And at the designated time, Jesus resolutely set out to deliver us from the terms and conditions we couldn’t pay. From the cross he cried, “It is finished” (John 19:30). It—his life’s work, the reason he came to earth, the debt that had to be paid—was paid in full. The terms and conditions were null and void. And the complete passage the apostle Paul would write could say, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:23).

Sometimes it’s good to feel the discomfort of terms and conditions of life in this world. Then we can reflect on the magnitude of the freedom we have, the terms and conditions we couldn’t pay, and the sacrifice that Jesus went through to make us his own.