Friday, May 03, 2002

You paid what?

Maybe you heard about this… A collector auctioned a chewed piece of gum on the internet that was supposedly thrown on the ground by Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Luis Gonzalez. A CHEWED piece of gum. Already used, spat out, discarded by the owner. The auction started a controversy. Well, I would think so. I mean, really, selling a chewed piece of gum! But that was not the source of the controversy. It seems a security guard reported that the collector had simply picked up the nearest piece of gum after a spring training game. The controversy was that it might not be the one chewed by Gonzales. The solution: Gonzalez has agreed to chew a fresh piece of gum and send it to the collector and the money will be donated to a high school sports program.

“That was a runaway train that needed to be stopped,” said the player about the controversy over the authenticity of the gum.

Now, you’re probably wondering how much the collector sold the piece of gum for, aren’t you? Are you ready? Sit down, take a deep breath. Three thousand dollars. That’s right. A 3 with 3 zeros. For a chewed piece of gum!!! (World Magazine, 4-20-02).

So I have an idea… let’s all chew some gum, auction it on the internet and raise money! Let’s see $3000 a piece... if we can get every one who receives this newsletter to participate we can raise over a million dollars. And if each one can get three others… Where have I heard that before?

Something is wrong here. We have a huge problem when someone is willing to pay thousands of dollars for a chewed piece of gum. I don’t care whose teeth mutilated it.
Think about it, every day clean up crews are paid thousands of dollars to REMOVE chewed gum from floors, chairs, tables, carpets, sidewalks and parking lots. What are we thinking?

We hear stories like that, shake our heads and ponder, “There are sure some stupid people in our world.” And we are right. And we are some of them! Some of OUR values are just as stupid. That’s right. Yours and mine and we are often blind to them. The greatest tragedy is that some are not just stupid, but eternally destructive and disastrous.

Listen to the words of Jesus…

"He (Jesus) said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight." Luke 16:15 (NIV)

Think for a moment about the things that are highly valued by our culture. The Apostle John captures 3 broad categories in 1 John 2:15-17 that include all of man’s highest values: pleasure, possessions and pride. They are amazingly consistent throughout history. The methods for getting them change, but the values remain the same. The types of pleasures change, but the value remains the same. Gluttony of natural food to exotic, junk food; homemade wine to hundreds of types of alcohol; illicit sex to cyber pornography. The types of possessions change but not the underlying value, “Nice cave…nice hut… nice cabin… nice house.” Or “nice walking stick… nice horse… nice chariot… nice wagon… nice car.” The types of power change, but the value remains the same, head of the tribe… head of the village… head of the kingdom… head of the office.

All of which Jesus said is not simply undesirable, but detestable in God’s sight. The Herb translation is that it will make God vomit. He can’t stand those distortions of His creation and WON’T. And will not forever put up with those who pursue them.

WELL, if God is that serious about this we need to understand and own His values. The good news is that we don’t have to look far to find them.

"Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."" Mat 22:37-40 (NIV)

There we have the broad categories of God’s values: Love God first with everything we are and have, and love other people just as much as we love ourselves. Those have not changed throughout history, and never will.

God’s values lead to life, man’s values lead to destruction.

God’s values prepare us for real life on the other side of the door we call death, man’s values lead us to real death in eternal separation from God and all that is good.

Here’s the great irony… If we live for God’s values now, we get pleasure, possessions and position beyond anything our minds can dream up. In all purity and godliness as God originally designed. It’s true. Check God’s owners manual. But if we live for human values now, we lose everything we really want.

SO WHAT YOU GONNA DO? I choose God’s values. And life, peace, joy, and contentment that come with God’s love. And I choose it BOLDLY!

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