Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tried and True

His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful
with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.
Come and share your master's happiness!'

-- Matthew 25:21

Think of it as the intersection of frustration and helplessness. It’s that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you jump in the car—already 10 minutes late for work—and turn the key in the ignition.

There’s a click. And then…nothing.

With the possible exception of New York City, it’s tough to get much done anywhere in the United States without a reliable automobile. So capitalizing on this fact of American suburbia, Mercedes-Benz has long marketed its cars as not only luxurious, but dependable. They even present a High Mileage Award to their loyal customers who’ve worn out their odometers in remarkable fashion. The latest Mercedes-Benz recognized for surpassing the million-mile mark is a 1970 280SE driven faithfully by George and Luzstella Koschel of Orange County, California. But the current high mileage champ is Gregorios Sachinidis, a Greek taxi driver who drove more than 2.8 million miles in his 1976 Mercedes-Benz 240D.

Mercedes-Benz—as well as several other well-known (and much more affordable) carmakers—has earned its reputation for building dependable products that drivers can count on. But that’s not always the case in marketing. In fact, the designers and manufacturers of some products (particularly personal computers, digital cameras and flat screen TVs) hold to a business philosophy called Planned Obsolescence. Whether it’s function, technology or even style, these products are designed to either fail or fall out of favor with their owners. But their makers know that more times than not, they can count on their customers to buy the latest and greatest models as soon as they’re on the market.

Planned Obsolescence is wasteful…yet effective. But there are some things in life that demand a higher level of fidelity than a shiny automobile or the latest iPad. When it comes to God’s church and matters of faith, the tendency among too many these days is to compromise and go with the flow. And the consequences can be deadly. For instance, the Archbishop of Canterbury—the leader of the Anglican Church in Great Britain—once suggested a two-track model for churchgoers: one for traditional, conservative believers and another for more “open-minded” Anglicans. This formula, he claimed, would allow for “two styles for being Anglican” while opening the door for ordaining openly gay clergy and allowing same-sex marriages.

According to this line of compromised logic, everyone wins. But since it openly defies God’s Word, those who fall for the deception become the losers.

Since the end of World War II, many in the church have looked the other way as society has fallen for world’s feels good-do it message. Watch almost any popular television show or movie these days and you’ll see destructive behaviors and lifestyles that God expressly condemns. Adultery and other illicit relationships, for example, are no longer considered scandalous. And if Christ-followers refuse to compromise their biblical faith and dare to speak out, they’re likely to be scolded as being intolerant, bigoted or narrow-minded. And let’s not forget “old-fashioned” and “behind the times.”

As Christ-followers, compromising God’s truth for the world’s warped values is never an option. It’s only when we focus on Jesus and live faithfully that we’ll fully experience His incredible blessings.  

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much,” Jesus reminds us, “and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

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