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Lead us not into temptation. Please.
Dubious sales tactics should find no home within the Christian community. Are current concerns are being exploited in a way that gives the enemy of God a potential foothold in the lives of His people?
MUCH as I value the Christian lives, work and witness of so many of my brothers and sisters in Christ in the USA, I am sometimes (quite often recently) in despair about the glaring money-making thrust behind so much material that comes my way from across the Atlantic.
The latest ‘sell’ (and it is highly-typical of others of the same genre) is a set of DVD’s which will educate the purchaser in how to ensure that he/she and family can survive the soon-coming catastrophic collapse of the social and economic systems that support our lives.
Aside from the issue of the ‘we want your money’ hard-sell, the other – and much more serious – aspects of all of this are the extent to which –
- a spirit of fear is being employed in the selling process. (The content, language, tone and background music of the multi-media electronic flier are apocalyptic in tenor: it’s ‘scary’ stuff.)
- the ‘tactics for survival’ carry an explicit message that our ultimate well-being is both paramount and totally dependant on our own actions and prescient awareness.
Three clear and present dangers
So there are three very real dangers which lurk within all of this.
The first two are in the category of ‘temptations’; and they relate to the dangers of -
- succumbing to that spirit of fear (and we know the source of that spirit)
- trusting in ourselves (our wisdom, efforts and resources) rather than in God
However the third (and great) danger is that we will dismiss all these prognostications as scaremongering exaggerations and distortions: that we see them merely as sales devices employed alongside bold claims for the ‘cure all’ remedies on offer – to be shooed away as irrelevant.
So it needs to be said that the sales-pitch scenarios are not necessarily off the wall.
As far as I can gather from sources I trust, the politicians – both here and abroad – are not ‘coming clean’ with the extent of the problems facing our societies in terms of economic plight, the threatened breakdown of social cohesion and the extent to which many issues are now, in terms of threats to national stability and security, beyond human solutions.
The DVD marketeers may have somewhat worldly motives and employ some dubious sales tactics, but their forecasting is not necessarily amiss.
However the critical point in all of this is not so much what lies ahead of us, but rather the context in which Christians should perceive these things and how each one of God’s children should respond.
So how should we respond?
Back at the genesis of the current financial crisis I found myself one morning in an involuntary time warp. Some years previous, my Friday morning routine required me to write a regular column for a newspaper. However by 2007 that task had become a faded memory.
Yet one Friday morning in October that year I found myself – in totally unexpected fashion – not only back in ‘writing mode’ but writing without having to think to much in the process: the words just ‘came’.
Having ‘written’, I felt that the task was perhaps merely a cathartic and personal process; and having done it, the job was over. However, and through a later and random conversation with David Andrew, the Editor of Sword magazine, it ended up in the next edition of that publication.
The article was my response then. The tail end of it frames my response now.