Summary: The first of a study of Paul’s Trustworthy Sayings. This one helps us to gain a fuller understanding of God’s grace.
-- How many of you have ever bought something from a TV commercial?
I’ve never been one to do this very much -- partly because I usually missed the type of commercials advertising products (getting a snack); and partly because the products were always too expensive. Then an interesting thing happened -- our first child, Amy, was born -- and suddenly I found myself watching TV infomercials at 3 in the morning.
Have you noticed that they have become really creative in making these 30 minute commercials? Most of them used to be boring and predictable, but now some of them are quite exciting and effective, especially upon the sleep-deprived person cuddling a baby.
There are a few things that every infomercial has in common:
- an amazing product or service to sell;
- an energetic / well-known host / hostess and an enthusiastic crowd;
- first-hand reports of people who have used the product and have found it to be amazing;
- a special limited-time offer -- usually a discount on the normal price, and special bonuses (ie. if you buy now, you will also receive...).
Now let me ask you this: what is it that really seems to lure you in / convince you to buy?
- product is brand new / easy to use / proven effective by others.
- remarkable claims made by the host / manufacturer.
- there’s a little inside of us saying "I just have to have that item!"
Now, if that is the case, Why is it that many, if not most of us, generally don’t buy things very often from TV commercials?
- too expensive, trendy.
- “seems too good to be true.”
I expect, however, that the greatest reason we don’t make these purchases is that all of us have been burned at one time or another. All of us have had the experience of buying a product (from a commercial or a store), and we’re really excited. But then we get it home and find that it really wasn’t as easy, effective, or as durable as they claimed it was. How did that make you feel?
How does it feel...
- when your new car breaks down in less than a month?
- when the person you voted for reneges on their campaign promises?
- when you fly to Florida, and your luggage flies to Chicago?
- when someone gives you a check, and it bounces?
How do you feel? Upset, frustrated, betrayed, disappointed. What happens inside of you if this happens to you alot? You become cynical, lose faith in people, don’t trust others easily.
Unfortunately, I think that alot of us have been disappointed too often by products and people and have become extremely cynical. To the point that not only do we fear disappointment, we expect it. As a result, many of us have learned not to trust -- not to trust our neighbors, our government, our schools, institutions, etc. Unfortunately, a further result is that many people have become very cynical about GOD / spiritual things. They’re afraid to place their trust in the church and the Bible because they’re don’t want to be disappointed again -- so they stay away / keep them at arm’s length.
This affects us as Christians as well. Knowing that people are watching us, and judging Christ by what they see in us, many of us as Christians have become fearful of saying or doing anything for God in case we mess up and turn someone off. We’ve lost confidence in ourselves, and at times, even in spiritual truths.
How do we change this? How can we rebuild our confidence as Christians? How can we earn the trust of others around us so that they will listen to us and not write us off as “too good to be true”?
I believe that we as Christians need to become convinced of the truth of God’s Word and the claims it makes for our lives. We need to find our confidence and security in God, so that we can boldly offer what we have found to others. We need to become the kind of people that others will believe.
These are the same challenges that Christians have faced for centuries. And the good news is that we can look to the same place for our answers -- God’s Word.
I’ve always been amazed by the Apostle Paul -- the great evangelist and church planter. In the midst of his work, he was also a prolific writer. He wrote many letters to his followers -- some to churches / Christians in various towns & cities; others to individuals -- specifically leaders that he had developed, equipped, and placed in key ministry positions. These letters, in particular, have a different flavor -- more personal in nature. They were written to encourage and help these leaders in the work that God had given to them -- Pastoral Epistles.