Hype is spiritually sinister. The enemy uses it through marketing and advertising to tempt Christians towards consumerism. Have you been caught by it?
After over 25 years, praise the Lord I’m finally starting to catch on. I’m still guilty of buying into it at times, and likely will be somewhere down the road. (That happens when you love technology and grow up living an entertainment-led lifestyle.) Yet each time I do inevitably leads to some measure of disappointment and/or frustration. And altogether I’m thankful that the Word of God has been helping me, as only it can, to expose the spiritually-sinister concept known as hype for what it really is and how the enemy uses it.
You know what I’m talking about. The people hired to market and advertise the products and services for hundreds of companies around the world are geniuses at drawing us in to their schemes. It’s such an obvious manifestation of what I John 2:15-17 teaches that it’s maddening that we often don’t seem to notice our own participation. The reality is that marketers and advertisers don’t do their jobs for our benefit. If anything, I’m sure these professionals laugh all the way to the bank while they gloat about just how painless it really is to jar us loose of our dollars in exchange for their flawed products and services. Congratulations to them, and shame on us!
I John 2:15-17
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but however doe the will of God abides forever.
Those verses don’t speak well of man. Frankly there’s nothing to speak well of concerning man. It’s pitiable that the very temptations which Adam and Eve gave in to in the garden, bringing upon us the Fall, are the exact same temptations that incite our sin several thousand years later. Also don’t forget that A&E were perfect before disobeying; they were merely capable of disobeying. Adam and Eve bought the serpent’s hype, as do we, year after year. And Satan’s playbook hasn’t changed. It hasn’t needed to. Our sins always fall under at least one of the sin pillars: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
I highlight these truths especially because Christmas is almost upon us. You know, that day on the calendar when many believers pretend that they care more about the purposeful incarnation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ than about acquiring more and more “stuff”. It’s interesting and telling how Christ doesn’t mince words speaking to this subject in Luke 12, “Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (vv.13-15) Christ, as He always did, went straight to the heart of the matter. Man by nature has an insatiable greed for the world’s things, but what Jesus said applies also to putting so much stock into having some thing in the first place. Paul addresses this succinctly as well at the end of Colossians 3:5, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” In other words, convincing yourself that life won’t go on until you have some thing is nothing more than idolatry. It’s the belief that some thing will satisfy you more, or better, than Jesus Christ Himself. Ouch! This would characterize the majority of my 28+ years of life.
And isn’t it ironic that for these products, whether as seemingly small as a Starbucks latte or as significant an investment as an iPad Air, over time you inevitably discover one or more aspects that just don’t measure up to the hype…that fail to meet your expectations…that cause you to feel disappointed? (My examples may not apply to you; if so, insert what you know does.) But of course, marketing and advertising will never warn you about such things. That would never be to their benefit. It’s their job to build up hype to insane decibels, to loudly drum up your expectations, and to convince you that your life will be finally fulfilled after point of sale. Again, that is not for your benefit. Each time you experience this disappointment or frustration with some thing, it should be a reminder that Christ is incapable of disappointing or frustrating us, at least not in a way that isn’t our own fault.
The fact of the matter is that the people who create the products we love and believe we can’t do without are no different from us. They’re the same flawed, sinful human beings who make mistakes, rebel against their Creator, and often live for self. I always shake my head in disbelief when I hear people suggest that company executives aren’t foolish or stupid enough to make decisions that ultimately cause great damage to, if not the downfall of, their brand(s). And it’s certain that as a result, the products they produce will reflect those realities. Why then do we join them as though we share the same goals?
How does it aid our walk with Christ, and how is it God-honoring, to spend a few dollars every morning on whatever wake-up magic that promises to start our day off just right? What happened to God’s law being the daily delight of our hearts? How does it aid our walk with Christ, and how is it God-honoring, to purchase every new iteration of a particular smartphone or tablet? What happened to the great gain of godly contentment? How does it aid our walk with Christ, and how is it God-honoring, when we wake up at some insane hour the morning after Thanksgiving…or camp outside a certain store, just to exchange dollars for some piece of junk that will inevitably disappoint or not even be used six months later? What happened to separation from the ungodly acts of the unbelieving world?
I’m hardly suggesting that Christians shouldn’t have fun with things, or purchase things. After all, God created everything, and there’s still good to be enjoyed in spite of sin and the curse. There’s nothing wrong with owning a tablet, a smartphone, new clothes, jewelry, some kitchen tool…whatever tickles your fancy. There is something wrong, however, if you consistently believe the enemy’s lies that you have to have some thing… that your problems will be solved, or that you’ll finally be happy… by having some thing (i.e. buying into hype), and subsequently you do whatever is necessary to possess such things.
The bottom line is that only Christ can and does satisfy, and only He is able to deliver us from these hype hooks! Recall the temptations Christ was victorious over in the wilderness. Satan tempted Him with the suggestion of turning stones to bread because He was hungry (lust of the flesh); Satan tempted Him with rule over the world’s kingdoms (lust of the eyes); and Satan tempted Him with fame and a following if He would only jump off the temple’s pinnacle and rescue Himself with God’s angels (pride of life). Yet with Scripture the Lord Jesus defeated Satan, and so must we, along with of course depending fully upon His grace and making Him the treasure of our hearts. Not things.
Christ alone can fill your heart with true joy. The Pharisees and Sadducees wanted hype, but got simply Christ Himself. That’s really what we need, Jesus Christ Himself. That’s how it should be. He alone must be the object of our faith that we simply can’t live without. Anything else will inevitably disappoint and/or frustrate. Thus, this 2013 Christmas season [and beyond], be wary of the world’s hype, as used by the enemy!