My Son, Nathan is into magic. One of his favorites is to tell me he is going to give me a dollar or maybe five dollars. However, when I reach for it he hits the button on a little gadget he has that causes the string (fastened to the money) to slip from my archaically slow grasp and back into his Donald Trump like grasp! He always gets a kick out of it.
You got a kick out of stuff like that when you were nine too.
But here’s the deal. It’s cute when a child plays this game, but it’s pathetic when those who claim the name of Christ play it as well. We’re called to be different than everyone else out there for themselves — phrases like, selfless, love one another, serve, lights on a hill, salt to the world, come to mind. A walking, talking, fleshy ball of silly string is somehow NOT the picture of Christ that I think God had in mind when we see what is written in His Word here,
“5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
Still, that’s what we so often get.
Most of the time everything looks good right up front, but look carefully and there’s a thread hanging somewhere.
Trace it to its origins.
Guess where it leads?
Right back to a Paris Hilton heart. It normally leads to the real motivation for what at first appeared to be a gift with, no strings attached.
Those motivations usually labeled as follows:
“What’s in it for me?”
“How can we make this a win-win?”
“I’m not doing this for nothin!”
“Maybe THIS will get me in with ______________” ( insert whoever you idolize here )!
“I expect something in return for this!”
and on and on and on. We can say it a million different ways, but the desired outcome is the same. We’re doing what we do for what it will do for us when we’re done! <— Say that three times fast!
Why do I even bring this up? Because, as a pastor, I live with reminders of this everyday. A couple of weeks ago I took someone up on an offer for help with something. It was help they’d offered again and again. So, I thought, ok, let’s give this a try. In retrospect, I’m thinking a 2×4 to the head would have been easier.
It got back to me almost immediately that the individual was trashing me because I didn’t call to go out to lunch and really spend some “quality” time with him. Apparently, he wanted to be “transported” (ala ‘Star trek style) to the inner circle of friendships in my life.
Silly me. I just thought he was offering to help a fellow brother in Christ. Oh well, fool me once…”
But, actually, the most tempting thing to do when this happens is the WORST thing I could do (you too). I could just pill away from people a little more and build walls around my own heart. But the problem with the old, “Al Gore lock box’ approach to life is that you may protect yourself from SOME hurt, but you also end up walling yourself away from ALL love and meaningful friendship. No, even when the ‘strings’ get me, I just need to detangle and go on.
Polarized sunglasses are cool (stay with me, I’m not having an ADD moment here)! They not only block out the glare, but, if they are truly polarized (not the cheap Walmart fakes) they will show you an array of colors you never knew were there.
I wish I had a magical pair of sunglasses that could enable me to see the “gifts” people offer, strings and all. Wouldn’t that be cool? No more let downs, no more getting burned because you opened your heart up to a, ‘friend.’
I do have such a pair of glasses.
No, I’m not telling you where I got them.
But I did pull a dollar out of the offering box and sneak a quick look at it under the scrutiny of my priceless specs. Yes, I put it back!
Here it is…
It freaked me out!
…I just hope it wasn’t yours.
…I’m sure it wasn’t.
Anyone missing a dollar? Don’t panic. If you give it like some people, you can just push the button and demand it back at anytime.
Just a thought.
Have a good day!