Where do you rank, when shopping for Christianity...
I hate to shop, especially for clothes. It is a process that consumes more energy than I am willing to give. I have a ritual when it comes to shopping. I have to examine my item for at least thirty minutes, before even committing to try it on. If I feel we are a good match, then off to the dressing room we go. After endless twirling and bending in front of the mirror, it needs to scream "buy me", or to the discard pile it goes. I might even put it back on the rack, just to come back to it later and start all over again. If I am feeling rushed, frazzled, or impatient, I can tend to buy it and hang onto the receipt, for a possible return later. Thus allowing me to perform the ritual at home. If I like it, but not sure I want it, I would even be willing to place it on layaway, to allow me extra time to think about it. But watch out, because when I come across something I absolutely love, everyone will hear about it. I might even buy extra to pass along to others. Ironically, I have found that these principles can apply to our Christian life as well.
"Finders keepers", as I will call them, tend to think things through. They are people who know what they want and go after it. They are those who wanted a new pair of shoes, so they shopped around first, and found the best deal. They looked at the ratings, and read the reviews, making them confident in the pair they are purchasing. They marched into the store, tried them on for size and left with box in hand. A matter of fact, they even tell the cashier to keep the receipt, because they know there is no chance of returning them. After testing and trying other shoes, they know a knock-off can never stand up to the real thing. They are also the go getter of Christianity, standing firm on what they know is tried and true. These are the Billy Grahams of the world. So thrilled with the product they found, they want to share it with everyone. When something great is discovered, and it is meant to better your life, why would you keep it to yourself?
My "return junkies" are next. They find it very easy to return things, not only in life, but also Christianity. Bought a new purse just because everyone else had it, but you can't afford it now? Head back to the store with your receipt in hand, no questions asked. Not happy with your marriage, return it to the courts. Didn't mean to get pregnant? Not a problem, return it to its heavenly maker. They live by the seat of their pants, making rash decisions and dealing with the consequences later. With today's easy "return policies", it has become very convenient to dismiss consequences altogether. We wonder why people don't cherish things, marriage, or life in general. We have made it too simple not to. All responsibility has been removed from the rightful owners. These people tend to pick and choose what they want to keep and return, in Christianity as well. They say they want to live as Christ did, yet they want to pick certain areas to live by. They are the ones who invite Christian friends over for dinner, yet would never consider inviting the homeless man they drive by everyday. The same people who will put a fish sticker on the back of their car, but won't mention the name of Jesus in the workplace. They have bought into Christianity, yet have returned the parts that make them feel uncomfortable. The parts that define who we are as followers of Christ.
Then you have the "layaway for later" crowd. They know a good thing when they see it, yet they feel they can't afford it right now. Perhaps they are not willing to make the decision to invest quite yet.They don't want to lose it completely, so they store it on the back shelf, allowing them to think about it, hold on to it, and keep it within reach. It is too much of a commitment to pay the price up front, so they put a little in at a time. They can't invest now because they are still hanging onto to their old self. The thought of having to replace the existing, seems almost to much to bear. The work and effort it would take is more than they are willing to commit to. Why do we as Christians try to pack it all in? If we would learn to let go of our old ways, thoughts, and habits, we could make room for the things that really matter. Instead, we place the most important things on the back shelf, only willing to pull it down when the old has completely failed us or when we want to impress others. Must things break completely before we fix it or replace it? Is it so wrong to replace something before that happens? Most would probably invest now, if they only realized how much the item outweighs the price.
Which are you? Perhaps you are all three. You know what you want, you have even tried it once, but you're afraid to fully commit. You keep returning in life and coming up empty. You know you have this great thing awaiting you, but not sure you should fully invest in it. You are so content with the knock-off versions, that you won't even consider the real thing. Sure, it looks, performs, and acts like the real thing, but you know deep down that it is only a mock. What holds you back; selfishness, laziness, insecurities? God did not send his Son to pay the debt of sin, just for us to return it or lay it aside. He paid it so that we could have the ultimate purchase... abundant life. Now isn't that worth sharing with others? There's only one problem...you can't share something you don't currently possess.