Drowning out the world’s messages
By Jessica Brodie
I’m pretty frugal, and I don’t usually get the shopping itch, but once in a while the wants begin to pile up. I see a commercial and realize it’s been soooo long since I took that weekend getaway I “deserve,” or realize my watch band somehow went from old to shabby and I really “need” to get another.
Of course, I don’t need these things at all. Society tells me I do (or some company out to make money by manipulating my buyer psychology), and even though I know better, occasionally I succumb.
Sometimes it’s hard not to, isn’t it? Turn on the TV or radio, scroll through social media, or even just mosey through your favorite big-box store, and Temptation with a capital T is everywhere—to buy the bigger house or car, to wear this to attract your romantic partner, to drink that to be considered fun and relevant, to indulge because, well, why not? You work hard; you’re allowed to be happy. Right?
And on the surface, these things look great, don’t they? There’s nothing biblically or morally wrong with buying a cute car or a nice outfit, with taking a luxurious vacation or going for that triple-scoop ice cream cone.
But here’s the thing: these are cultural messages mainly designed to sell stuff that makes other people money. The American dream is just that—a dream. And as long as we remember these are cultural messages and not the essence of life, it’s fine.
The problem is when these are the only messages we hear. That’s when it all gets very, very confusing. (And when my Amazon shopping cart starts to grow.)
But of course there’s another message we need to give full weight to: God’s message, “the” message, the whole point to life both now and for eternity.
We get God’s message in a number of ways: prayer, spending time with other Christians, sermons and other lessons at church, and in the holy Bible, which is God’s love letter to us all.
The trouble is that many of us spend far more time watching TV, shopping, and otherwise exposing ourselves to the world’s messages than we do absorbing God’s message, which leaves us vulnerable and often confused about our priorities. Think about it: Church is usually just once a week. Many people confine prayer to when they wake or just before falling asleep. Fellowship with other Christians gets back-burnered in favor of jobs and other responsibilities. And many people don’t read their Bible on a regular basis.
But reading God’s word has so many benefits—Scripture is filled with reasons why!
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV)
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8)
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105)
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4)
“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11)
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16)
Here’s the crux. Christians are called to Godly standards. We are called to set our minds on heaven, not earthly things (Colossians 3:2). We are told not to “love the world” or worldly things (1 John 2:15).
But when the primary messaging we expose ourselves to is culture, it’s so much harder to resist falling in love with the world.
Reading the Bible every day is an ideal way to counter that.
So yeah, like your great car or your new jeans or your swimming pool—but love the Lord. Browse Amazon to your heart’s content—but don’t let mere wants distract you from what really matters.
God. Only God. Everything else is just stuff and nonsense.