Photo by Skalunda on Morgue File.
There is something known as subliminal advertising. This is the sort of advertising notoriously done in cinemas. You know the drill, you get to the theater thirty to forty minutes before your movie begins to ensure you will see all the previews beforehand. You, in devout discipline, move from the entry doors, past the sin-drenched, butter-dripping, sugar-packed, fat-laden goodies and right to the ticket puncher and into your seat.
But, temptation is not so easily defeated or shunned! As you sit listening to the enlightening, mood-altering music, you begin noticing advertisements on the screen for tasty Coke and salty, finger-licking good buttery popcorn! Your mouth begins to water and your stomach cries out from its pits, Hey, I need some of that!
Before you realize what you are doing, almost in an altered state of consciousness, you are up out of your seat and at the refreshment counter buying that $10 soda and $20 popcorn and candy “special”!
Other advertisement is more up front with its intentions. My girls are watching cartoons and with each commercial break they are tempted by the latest, greatest toy. As they watch these commercials, these enticements into capitalistic avarice and gluttony, one will extemporaneously shout out, I want that! Then the other, almost as a frantic echo will cry out, Me too!
Of course, in most cases, they have no idea what the toy is, what it does or if it would be any fun to play with or not. In fact, usually, as soon as the cartoon begins again they have forgotten all about it.
Thankfully, a two-year old and four-year old’s attention spans are rather brief.
But then, the next commercial break comes along and the shouts of selfishness and greed begin all over again, I want that! Me too!
I wonder . . . how many times do I sound like that to God? How many times do I cry out for the latest and greatest only to be distracted by something else moments later?
I wonder how often my prayers sound more like whiny selfishness and greedy desires than worshipful and praise-filled gratitude?
We are fickle creatures. As Lewis said, we are too easily pleased.
Our attentions can be manic and unpredictable. We obsess and want and desire . . . and then, we move on to something more dazzling and shiny that appeals to our gratuitous avarice.
Our hands, instead of being instruments of giving and sharing; instead of being uplifted before Christ to praise and adore him; instead of helping, are too often grubby and stingy: grabbing and taking whatever we want and think we deserve.
I wonder how our prayers would change . . . how our lives would change if we truly put other people’s needs before our own? If, instead of saying, I want that! we prayed, God, I know Bob is going through a difficult time, I pray you would bless him today. Even more God, help me be a blessing to him today.
It is our nature to be selfish and greedy. It is our nature to be gluttons and desirous of things and wealth. It is our nature to be rebellious against God and his ways. It is our nature to cry out, I want that! Me too!
Yet, as a Christ-follower, I am called to be anti-cultural. I am called to be anti-self, anti-me!
I am called to put on Christ and allow his grace to fill and overflow from me: my life, words and actions.
Not only that, but we clamor for the wrong things. How would the church be changed if we heard, Take upon yourselves the stripes of Christ so that you can show his love to those who hate. Take upon yourselves the light of Christ so that you can be light in darkness. Take upon yourselves the tears of Christ so that you can cry for those who are dead in their sins. Take upon yourselves the mind of Christ so that you can truly be Christ-like. Take upon yourselves your cross, follow his sandal tracks, listen to his words, feel his love and grace, embrace his ethic and surrender to his demands . . . what if, we heard these and much more like them and, by the grace of God and the power of his Spirit within us, triumphantly, humbly and joyously cried from our depths:
I want that! Me too!