Summary: Jesus said some radical things, radical things in his day and in ours. One of those things was, "Deny Yourself."
Back in my teenage years I did volunteer work with the Harris County Emergency Corps. I rode and drove ambulances and that kind of thing. Though it was a volunteer group, working with them had its perks. As part of our needed fund-raising efforts, we staffed the first aid station at various events in and around the Houston area, including Rice Stadium. The Corps doesn’t exist anymore so I have no idea who does the first aid station at Rice these days.
Most of the time the Rice Stadium work wasn’t a big deal. The stadium at least used to be the largest stadium in Houston and for Rice football games was almost completely empty. If you were a Rice fan there really wasn’t much to cheer about as they got beat by everybody. The thing people came to the games for was to see what kind of nonsense the Marching Owl Band, better known as the MOB came up with for its half-time show. This band practiced at clowning and being terrible.
The real perk to the Emergency Corps gig came January 13, 1974 when, for the first time, Houston hosted the Super Bowl, at Rice Stadium and the Emergency Corps had the first aid station. It meant I got to go to the Super Bowl and didn’t have to pay for a ticket.
That day was also my first exposure to something going on right now as next week’s Super Bowl rapidly approaches, ticket scalping. I had a man come up to me and a friend and offered us $200 apiece for our stadium passes. We wouldn’t take it. We were interested in getting into the game for free. Even had we been interested, at least as I remember it, you had to have your pass AND be in uniform. While that guy might have fit into my clothes six months ago, he wasn’t getting into them in those days.
$200 doesn’t sound like much and by today’s ticket prices, it isn’t. My theory on that is, he saw a couple of teenagers and thought he could get the best of us because he just had to get in to see the game. I have no idea if he ever found anyone to do business with or not.
Many of us, in our society are like that. When preparing this week for this message I ran across a brief story from The Denver Post. Tobey Maguire of Spiderman fame wanted to see the, at the time, new Star Wars movie The Return of the Sith so badly, that he gave three people $1,500 each for their $12 tickets to the movie on May 18, 2005.
That is wanting to see a movie pretty badly. Generally when Cindy and I go to the movie we are trying to get into the first show of the day because I don’t even want to pay $12 for admission. I can’t imagine willingly paying $1500 just to see a movie. I can wait for it to come out on DVD.
But, that is one of the things in our society. We want things and we want them now. When we see something we want, we can’t manage to deny ourselves. We can’t manage to delay our gratification. We think, “if only I have this, then I will be truly happy.” So, we go out and get whatever the latest “this” is in the great hope that in it we will find satisfaction. And, it works, for a little while. It works until the new wears off, until the next latest, greatest thing comes out that we just have to have.
I got my first iPad THE day they were first released. Actually, Cindy gave it to me for my birthday. Still, I had it the first day it was available. I loved my new iPad. I thought it was just about the greatest thing ever. Until what seemed like only 2 weeks later and Apple came out with the iPad 2 (I know it was longer than that but it only seemed like 2 weeks). While I never got an iPad 2, that didn’t mean I didn’t want one. The new one was lighter and faster than my old one AND it had not one but two cameras built in. Time has passed now and I did upgrade my iPad to an iPad Air which is even lighter and faster than the iPad 2. It has better graphics and it has two better cameras. And, do you know what? I still have not taken the first picture with my iPad Air.
It just seems to be the way we are. We think our things, our stuff will make us happy and yet it seems to fall just short of complete satisfaction.
This morning we are continuing our series on the Radical Sayings of Jesus. We began this series three weeks ago talking about, being anxious for nothing. So many people in our world, me included, seem to worry over every little detail in life. We worry about how we will get the bills paid. We worry about how the kids are going to turn out. Some worry about a keeping a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs and where the next meal is going to come from. Jesus tells us not to worry. God takes care of the birds and animals and we are much more important than they, God will take care of us too. There is no need to worry.