Gimmicks. They are intended to make something shiny so we’ll be more interested. There’s some guy on t.v. that is always yelling at me while trying to sell me something with Oxy something, something. “It will clean your toughest carpet stains, removes pet hair, and is fully biodegradable.” Just when I think my ears have had enough, “but wait, there’s more. Order now and get my newest invention, the Super-Oxy Really Dirty Dish Scrub Brush!!!”. I can’t stand that guy now. If I ran into him in the store, I’d more than likely start screaming in his face about how I don’t use his garbage, but rather just regular old Resolve carpet cleaner and Dawn dish soap.
Christians often feel like they need to make up gimmicks to attract people to God. One of the biggest jokes was the Prayer of Jabez written and utterly molested by Dr. Bruce Wilkinson. He “skilfully” wrote The Prayer of Jabez, The Prayer of Jabez for Women, and The Prayer of Jabez for Teens, as well as other short books. Soon after the book came out, you could also buy Prayer of Jabez key chains, Payer of Jabez bookmarks, Prayer of Jabez Bible covers and my personal favorite, the Prayer of Jabez Hebrew prayer shawl. It must be kind of like an antennae that helps boost output transmission. I have to wonder what God thinks of all of this. I already know what so many non-Christians think about it. It confirms so many of their prejudices against “Christians”.
My wife and I have been helping to plant a church. During one of our core meetings, we were all talking about evangelism, how to reach the world. I still have to shake my head at one guy who said that “Jesus called us to be fishers of men. When you go fishing, you use bait. We need to figure out how to “bait” people into our church”. I thought if that’s the case, then strippers and beer ought to work great! Using his “logical” analysis of Christ’s metaphor, we should also use good hooks too, like double barbed ones, so they can’t get away. Then we should be sure that our fillet knife is sharp, so that we can cut them apart as soon as we get back to shore/church. It also would pay to call ahead to shore so that someone can get the fire ready so we can roast our catch as well. Part of the tragedy, was that only a couple of us in the group saw what he said as being ridiculous. The others were putting new line on their reels.
God needs no gimmick. He is the same one who toasted a soaking wet pile of wood with an offering on top while the other god’s slept. At one time, He parted the Red Sea so that thousands, perhaps millions of His followers could cross to safety. Another time, He walked on the water and called His follower to him. With single words, He spoke creation into existence and at His son’s death, that same creation shook violently. He was a friend of the damned and damned those who would not accept the outcasts. He took Job to the very edge of life itself, gave it all back and more and then explained how He is clearly in charge. He took my life that was lost in the world, searching for hope, and gave me peace that goes beyond any understanding. Exactly what part of God needs a gimmick to attract us to Him? I think that before we could answer, He would respond as He did with Job:
1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: 2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? 3 Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. 4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. 5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? 6 On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone- 7 while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? 8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, 9 when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, 10 when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, 11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’? 12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, 13 that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? 14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment. 15 The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken. 16 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? 17 Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death? 18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this. 19 “What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? 20 Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? 21 Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years! 22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, 23 which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? 24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth? 25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, 26 to water a land where no man lives, a desert with no one in it, 27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass? 28 Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew? 29 From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens 30 when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen? 31 “Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? 32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? 33 Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth? 34 “Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water? 35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’? 36 Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind? 37 Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens 38 when the dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick together? 39 “Do you hunt the prey for the lioness and satisfy the hunger of the lions 40 when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in a thicket? 41 Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?