I want you to take a minute and think about what your Christian walk would look like if everywhere you went the world was reminding you of Christ and the life He has for you. What if you turned on secular television and during “commercial” breaks there were ads teaching you about the Bible and reminding you of God’s love for you. What if billboards were flooded with scripture encouraging you and spurring you on? What if you turned on the radio and in between songs you were being taught how to know God better?
Seems a bit overwhelming at first, however there is a good chance that you would grow in the Lord due to a constant stream of messages encouraging you to do so. Now I want you to consider that scenario but instead of godly messages I want you to picture messages of greed, vanity, and selfishness. What kind of person would you be in that scenario if you were constantly being told to better yourself by improving your body image? Or what if you were constantly told that you deserve a better, easier life so buy this product and get that kind of life? Unfortunately, that is not hypothetical situation…that is the world we live in, and unless you are being intentional about not being shaped by these messages, you will be.
I am amazed at how much we are constantly being bombarded by advertising and by its deceptive message. You can’t watch TV, listen to the radio, surf the internet, or even just look around while you are driving without being told, “better yourself with our product!! Look sexier in our clothes!! Tone up your flabby body with our gym!! Take care of your family by pre-paying for your casket at our funeral home!!” AAUUGGHH!!!!
You can’t help but wonder how this is shaping us. It is inevitable that if you listen to a message long enough you will start to believe it, so I urge you to consider advertising as a very serious threat to the worldview that God desires you to have. Know that almost every advertisement you see is aimed at getting your money and not at bettering you. These companies do not care about you. They only care about their profits, and they will do whatever it takes to get you to trust them and buy from them. If that means making you laugh, then they’ll do it. If it means tugging at your heartstrings (and yes, I am a victim of getting all teary eyed at some “darling” commercials), then they will tug at your heartstrings.
Don’t get me wrong. It is not a sin to buy stuff. We need stuff to live. However, the amount of greed that advertisers want you to have is dangerous, so it is good to look at an ad objectively and say, “do I really need that?” There is a current ad for a car, and when I heard the slogan, I just cringed. It said, “It’s not more than you need, just more than you’re used to.” WHAT?? If I adapted that slogan as my life motto, I would waste my entire life working my tail off so that I could constantly try to treat myself to the very best because that’s what I deserve, right? Wrong. Dead wrong. That is not the life that Jesus led, and it’s certainly not the message that He taught.
As Americans, we live extremely comfortable lives; lives in which even our pets live more comfortably than some people in third world countries, and that is devastating. So, in this world where advertisers are doing whatever it takes to get our attention we must stop and remember the life of our Savior, who lived simply and selflessly. We must listen to God’s message of dying to ourselves and shouldering our cross. We must plead for His will to be done and not ours, and we must offer our lives as living sacrifices to Him. It is important to fight the constant messages that we are being fed and to fill up on the message that God gives instead. It is far more valuable, and it never goes out of style.