Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Cost of Community (abridged) > Part 3 > Values

Very much related to technology is our values. Our culture exalts convenience. New products are driven by technology that is faster, better, or cheaper. Just the other day I saw a Zertyc commercial that proclaimed superiority over Claratin because it starts working two hours earlier. Do you see what I mean? This can be a very dangerous concept, because that’s not how relationships work do they? If we treat our relationships the way that we treat our allergy medicine then we’ll be sorely disappointed.

Advertisements we are exposed to shape our expectations of reality. Spin and exaggeration rule. We’re told that the products will make our lives better and not only that, they’ll do it immediately! TUMS- instant relief. DAWN- new tablets to make your dishes sparkle, and you become a superior homemaker. LEXUS- the pursuit of perfection. The promise of these products is ultimately bankrupt, because we long for much more than clean dishes or intestinal peace. But what happens in a convenience driven culture is the gospel becomes distorted: Say this prayer and God will “enlarge your territory”. With God you can live “Your Best Life Now”. A relationship with Jesus can get turned into a sales pitch. But the message we get from Jesus is much different from the rapid satisfaction our culture teaches. This instant gratification stuff is in fact, not reality. So I ask you: What has been informing your expectations of community? Is it a true relationship with Jesus, guided by the authority of scripture? Or is it the junk that you’ve learned from our culture? Let us consider some of the things that Jesus said.

Matthew 13: 1-9 (the parable of the sower)
John 15: 1-8 (the vine and the branches)
Luke 6: 46-48 (the wise man on the rock)

Think about the imagery Jesus used. Is it because he lived in a largely agricultural society? Maybe. But you don’t think people back then liked stuff to get done fast? The stories Jesus tells are not stories of instant satisfaction are they? Many times Jesus speaks like we’ve heard in the first two stories- stories about things growing. Plants taking root or the pruning of branches- these are long, complicated processes that take much care. In the story of the wise man, Jesus speaks of a house being built and foundation being laid. I have built meager concrete homes in Juarez, Mexico. It is neither easy nor quick. Here’s the thing, our experience and scripture testify to the truth: meaningful relationships take time and they’re often inconvenient. For those married, consider how long you took before you decided to give yourselves to each other? For all of us, consider the time and energy it takes to build a friendship that lasts and that matters. Much of the frustration of going to college, a new school, or moving is that you know you’re going to have to start all over. Relationships take time and they are hard work.

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