Free of Charge

February 6th, 2015 by Christopher Caudle

Buy One/Get OneBOGO. I’ve never understood how that acronym gets used. I see and hear it frequently. My grocery store loves it.

It means “buy one, get one.” I know that.

But that doesn’t seem to be newsworthy. Most (all?) economic transactions don’t let you “get one” until you “buy one.”

I’m told by people who care for me in spite of my questions that the word free is implied and understood.

By most (all?) people. BOGO actually means BOGO (Free).

Free is implied. I understand that about the second jar of spaghetti sauce or the second month’s cable service. When free goes on to describe other things, we can get different ideas.

To receive something free, from a stranger, sometimes creates anxiety. Maybe they are giving me something of no value or something with strings attached. Maybe they are well-meaning, or well-versed in the laws of advertising.

In our culture, we have tried to remove much of this gift and giver ambiguity by turning as many interactions as possible into transactions. And transactions are valued in numeric terms. If something is free, its value is implied to be small. Newspapers don’t write articles, after all, about the art auction that sold a painting for $7.99.

Price, payment, receipt. BOGO.

Theologian Miroslav Volf writes in his book Free of Charge,

Mainly we’re set up to buy and sell, not to give and receive. We tend to give nothing free of charge and receive nothing free of charge. “The person who volunteers time, who helps a stranger, who agrees to work for a modest wage out of a commitment to the public good, who desists from littering even when no one is looking…begins to feel like a sucker,” wrote Robert Kuttner in Everything for Sale. To give is to lose.

This week’s scriptures raise the question of why the gospel we share with the world is free. Does that affect how we share it? How others hear it? How we value it? Isaiah, Paul and Jesus think the answer is yes.

What is the oddest thing (apart from birthday or Christmas gifts) you’ve ever been given for free? Send me a note and we will share some of them on Sunday at

grace and certain hope,



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About this author:

Christopher Caudle

Christopher Caudle

Fr. Christopher has an authentic sense of humor and is a man after the Lord's own heart. He pastors the members of New Covenant Church while keeping his family as a keen priority. Fr. Christopher holds BA in History from the University of North Carolina and a MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theology Seminary.

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