We are surrounded by a non-stop, twenty-four hours a day barrage of advertising. As Christians, why should this bother us? Or should it? The purpose of our lives is to live a life of “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Advertising is a constant distraction trying to grab our attention away from the things that are real and true and instead, get us focused on the natural, temporary things of this natural world. The whole point of an advertisement is to get you to covet something enough so that you will spend whatever it costs to buy it.
Recently, I had a ridiculous conversation with my telephone company. I called them to ask them to stop sending me advertisements for more of their products and services. I felt it was a waste of paper and money. Hohoho. How silly of me to want to save them some money. After a long and drawn out conversation, the woman finally agreed to stop sending the offending messages and then in the same breath she said that she noticed that I qualified for a special package. She rattled off all of the wonderful services I could get with this package faster than I could take in what any of it meant. Then she boasted that I could even get this wonderful package for three dollars less than I was paying at the moment! I said that if they were really intent on receiving less money, I’d be happy to oblige them and promptly signed up for the package. As soon as that transaction was complete, she started in on something else. I said, “Enough!” and hung up the phone. In the end, it saved me three bucks, but I had to wonder about the sanity of these people.
Then just the other day, I had to call my cell phone provider. For some reason I was receiving daily ads on my cell phone since the time that I had bought it. My daughter had the exact same phone and didn’t get any ads. I had tried several times to have these ads either stopped or blocked from my phone at different branches associated with my provider. Nothing seemed to work. So, I called the main number. After punching in the usual string of numbers required to ‘access’ my account, guess what was playing as I waited on hold for the next ten minutes? Yes, more ads. The woman was finally able to find the cause of the ads – an app that someone had downloaded onto my phone. Who put it there? Not me. It’s not a smart phone and I don’t have any data plan. I just use the phone for calls and texting. Anyway, the case was solved and … no more ads.
I think that for the most part, we are so accustomed to ads that we don’t even realize that we are constantly being assaulted by them. Yes, it is an assault. It’s a war out there to buy your business. No matter where you are, someone wants you to buy something more. As a frugal Christian trying to live an uncovetous life here on earth, I think that I try to ignore it all but lately it really does feel more like a knock down drag out assault. It takes a consciously herculean effort to ignore it.
When I go into a store, I have to almost put blinders on in order to stay focused on the particular item needed. Some stores, especially the ones that give you carriages (imagine that, carriages in a clothing store!), seem able to persuade consumers to buy bushels of extra items even though they entered the store for just one thing. Maybe it’s in the layout or some kind of subliminal message in the music they’re playing.
I believe that it is an issue for Christians because it keeps us thinking about natural things, natural desires. It makes us discontent with the things that we have and creates a constant desire to always have more, more. Most importantly it takes us away from our true purpose here on earth, which is to live the God life, the life which He put inside of us. It keeps us from connecting with that part deep inside of ourselves that would raise us up out of this earth’s natural crust and help us to discover that we are truly children of the Most High.