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Jamie Johnson
20-22 November 2009

For Sale!

Amassing idols and selling your soul

I attended a conference the other year and Phil Downer shared that when he watches television with his sons and a commercial appears on screen, he asks the question, "What are they trying to sell you?" We live in a society that is trying to sell stuff to us -- or better yet -- entice us into selling ourselves for things. And if the sell is not to spend money on more material things, it is to try to get something for nothing with a sense of lazy entitlement. It all has the same idolatrous root. I can get things for myself and puff up my status and say, "Look what I have!" Or I can worship -- that's what it really is -- some material thing because it makes me feel good. Or I can get stuff for nothing out of a sense of entitlement because I deserve it. It all points to self.

This is not to say that material things or even sales are bad. It's what society has done with it. Entitlement, however, is bad. My children always look forward to church when a man named Steve gives them gum. One Sunday, Steve wasn't there and my children kept wondering why they were not getting gum....and even complained! I told them not to expect the gum, but to be thankful when they did receive it. As a society, as people, we have bought into the lie of entitlement and forgotten how to live lives of gratitude. Would my children be pleased be get gum? Of course! However, gum only makes them happy for only a moment. It is fleeting and temporary. The ads and salesmen don't tell you that part. "Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life’" (John 4:13-14).

And it seems the government has bought into this thinking as well. What's for sale? They say we must have universal healthcare! What's the cost? So much for innovation, not to mention the 18 million who can afford it and do not want it, the 8.4 million 18 to 25-year-olds who think they are invincible and do not have it, the 12.6 million who are here illegally, the 9.4 million who are only temporarily uninsured, the 8 million who are covered but are not yet signed up by their parents, the 3.5 million who are eligible for government health programs, but have not signed up, and the many who overlap in the aforementioned categories (Source: Investor's Business Daily). What are they trying to sell us? Government is trustworthy. Really? Government is in control or Socialism. What about God?

In the song Divide on the album Despite, the band Chatterbox sings the following:

I want peace, you want peace, we all want our share of peace,
But scream all you want, it doesn't change a mind,
Look hard, look long, and all you'll find is more divisions, more distrust,
The things that turn unity to dust.

Without God,
Without God,
Without God,
Without God.

Is that what's for sale?

Government says we must provide constitutional rights to foreign terrorists! They aren't citizens and are out to destroy what the Constitution represents. This is like saying my dog has a right to attend Yale. This is just another form of the stupid politically correct cancer that is ruining our Republic. I can't say, "Merry Christmas" at school, but workers can disrupt productivity and face east and pray on their mats. Jesus is not politically correct. Ryan Dobson says, "Be intolerant because some things are just stupid!" I prefer to be tolerant, but not necessarily accepting of different perspectives, but I might as well put my eggs in Ryan's basket since in today's politically correct culture, tolerance means acceptance. It has been redefined. Maybe that's what all this nonsense is trying to sell us. Maybe they are trying to sell us the lie that I am not free to think unless it agrees with the establishment. If I think for myself and someone disagrees, it may be called intolerant or a "hate crime."

Government says that we have to spread the wealth. This applies to the above thinking regarding universal healthcare as well. Mike Adams of the University of North Carolina - Wilmington used an analogy of applying this type of thinking to a university grading system in the World Magazine article "Odd Man In" (November 21, 2009):

"I wrote a spoof e-mail to my students saying that I was going to come up with a new grading system. I said, ‘A lot of students make A's, and they really have more points than they need. No one really needs that many points, and there are a lot of poor people out there failing who really need more points. So, after Exam 1 I'm going to take points away from people who have A's and give them to people who have F's so we can have more equality in the classroom. We're going to cut it down to 3 levels: B, C, and D. After the 2nd Exam, we're going to rethink that and look at the average, and I'm sure that some people will have B's and D's, and that's really not fair. So we're going to compress it and give everyone C's.’…When I speak on college campuses socialists always show up and I always ask them this question: ‘What would be the effect of the grading policy if I actually did it?’ If people know what their outcome is in advance, they're not going to put forth an effort. The question I always have for the socialist is this: What's the difference between that and an economic policy that guarantees everyone the same outcome?"

The late Dr. Adrian Rogers, in Ten Secrets for a Successful Family (1996) writes the following:

"You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the industrious out of it. You don't multiply wealth by dividing it. Government cannot give anything to anybody that it doesn't first take from somebody else. Whenever somebody receives something without working for it, somebody else has to work for it without receiving. The worst thing that can happen to a nation is for half of the people to get the idea they don't have to work because somebody else will work for them, and the other half to get the idea that it does no good to work because they don't get to enjoy the fruit of their labor."

Is it worth the cost? Rogers further states, "by and large our young people do not know either the importance or the value of honest labor." Is this what they have been trying to sell us?

Sex sells. "Money for nothin' and your chicks for free" rings the old song Money for Nothing by Dire Straits. Yes, "chicks" because persons don't want to work at intimacy either. Is it all about sex? A dear pastor and friend of mine begs to differ, saying that for men, it's not all about sex; it's about orgasm because true sex requires working at intimacy, something society is unwilling to do. Society is flippant with sex as a consumable good, dispensable as the next consumer good. What are they selling? Self-gratification.

I recall earlier this year having our house on the market and before taking it off the market, being at peace with staying put. After our house left the market, we were inundated with letters from realtors that would help us realize our dreams (I guess that's what they are trying to sell: fulfillment) by having our house sell. One realtor actually sent 5 mailings, the last 2 mentioning that he was not trying to annoy us, but wanted us to take the opportunity with him. I guess he was trying to sell us opportunity to fulfill our dreams. All I got was annoyed.

The same is true for politicians. They are slick salesmen. What's the point of promises in a political campaign? Every politician has failed and will fail at some point. Be a good steward and vote, but realize you are electing someone who will fail at something in office. Persons vote like they are electing a messiah when the Messiah has already come!

The band Switchfoot sings the following:

I pledge allegiance to a country without borders, without politicians
Watching for my sky to get torn apart
We are broken, we are bitter
We're the problem, we're the politicians
Watching for our sky to get torn apart
C'mon and break me

And this points the fingers at ourselves. What are you buying? What are you selling? Rather than selling anything, what about the free gift of grace from Jesus? What if we have the latest and greatest and an app for that? Does it matter? Is it significant? Or are we falling along the same ignorant path?

Jesus said, "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" (Mark 8:36).

What's for sale? Is it worth the cost?

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