I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
– Philippians 1:20-26
I will get to the title in a little while.
The Apostle Paul, in this Scripture, is talking about whether it is better to die or to live. He wants to be with Jesus, but he knows people are counting on him. He doesn’t know how much time that he has left, but he knows that time will be spent illuminating Jesus and not broadcasting the presence of Paul.
One important note: Have you ever noticed the people that refer to themselves in the third person are usually bragging about how wonderful they are? The concept of speaking in the third person forces the listener to hear the speaker’s name rather than hearing “I” or “me”. They are advertising. The Apostle Paul is serving. He is sacrificing himself for others.
A few thoughts about television: I do not watch as much television as I used to. My Dad, for the last ten years of his life, watched television a lot, mostly sports, but he had the remote in his hand the entire time. Whenever a commercial came up, my Dad hit the mute button on the remote. He even closed his eyes if what they were showing was offensive to him.
That brings me to watching hurricane coverage. The weather is usually sponsored by things that old people need, since they are the ones watching the weather all day. But with hurricane coverage, other people tune in. That is when the luxury car commercials show more often. Have you noticed that some marketing guru has determined that luxury can only be sold in America by the British? It might be an American commercial for a Japanese luxury car, but it is a female British voice telling you that the car is not simply manufactured, it is ‘crofted’. Saying ‘croft’ instead of saying ‘craft’ sells more luxury cars, according to the experts. But then the British woman continues to tell you that the car that you need is a car that has crofted moss tree. Okay, she means ‘crafted mastery’, but the untrained American ear hears ‘crofted moss tree.’ I suppose if you cannot understand what she is saying, you cannot afford the car payments either.
I don’t know whether the folks on Madison Avenue, or wherever marketing decisions are made these days, are in touch with Real Americans or not. They understand that sex sells and things sell better if the announcer is British or Australian. But we are Americans. Most of the people I have worked with in the past would pronounce it “Murkins,” but that is a story for a different day.
But it is not just television advertisements. Most real estate people use luxury cars to drive you around from house to house. They will argue that they are concerned for your comfort, but they are really saying, “Look at me! I don’t need the commission when you buy your new home. You will only help me make improvements on my yacht.”
I could argue about how marketing is cramming the idea of luxury down our throats, but really, what about the personal level? Who are we living for? Who or what do we worship?
Are we living for Jesus and keeping our eyes on Him? Turning on the television, listening to the radio, going to a movie, or looking on social media… All of these promote the equivalent of the Baal shrines and Asherah poles of the Old Testament in our modern world – not every channel, but most. In the times corresponding to the books of Judges through 2 Kings, look for Baal, Molek, and others and you will find worshipping gods that are really no-gods (as used in The Message). Look for Asherah poles and you find the worship of sex and sexual perversions.
It is as if Satan is a one-trick pony, but he has a mastery (or is that moss tree) of picking the low hanging fruit. Satan appeals to our ego and our sex drive. If you are not satisfied in one or the other, Satan encourages us to go bigger or go outside the norm.
Do not fall for these lies.
Even if you are successful, you will still be empty without Jesus. There will still be something else to conquer. Why do you feel compelled to conquer the next thing? Satan is whispering in your ear that the new conquest will fill the void that can only be filled with Jesus. After each conquest, there is a new challenge, because the emptiness is still there if you do not have Jesus in your heart.
So, I will continue to drive my car that was made on an assembly line. It has not been ‘crofted.’ I will forget the ‘moss tree’ of luxury and try as the Apostle Paul says in the Scripture above. I want a mastery in ‘to live is Christ, and to die is gain.’
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.