Saturday, February 19, 2005


Read Deuteronomy 11 18-28

This morning, on the TV news broadcast, there was a segment about a young, 8-month-pregnant woman, who had sold advertising "space" on her swollen belly. And if that is not strange enough, someone was willing to pay $8,000+ to purchase those 'rights.' And apparently, this is small potatoes. Someone else "leased" their forehead for advertising for a month and racked up $37,000 in fees.

So, I am wondering - should I advertise space on my preaching robe? After all, professional athletes have all sorts of advertising on their uniforms...just try to see what color a NASCAR driver's outfit is with all the logos sewed on. Think of the funds I could raise for the annual budget, for mission, for youth work, for vacations!

How do we let folks today know that we are believers, that we seek to be faithful in accepting Jesus' invitation to follow him? One can tell by looking at a person if they are an Orthodox Jew by noticing the tefillim, the boxes wrapped around one's arm or forehead. These boxes contain the Shema, the great teaching: "Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone..." These are words that Jews are commanded to teach to their children and to bind them as a 'sign' of their faith in God.

Certainly, we can wear crosses to show our faith; but now that crosses have become chic jewelry, how would people know why we are wearing one? We can certainly put bumper stickers on our cars, but in the race track we call our roads, who has time to read them. We can put signs in our yards, but do our neighbors know whether or not we live the words on those signs? And we can teach words to our kids, a lot of words about God, about discipleship, about love - but is the Word planted deep within us?

If we are truly practicing justice, we won't need to advertise. If we really believe that all people are God's children, and are to be treated with love, respect, and honor, we won't need to put that on the bumper of our car; if we sincerely seek to deny ourselves and offer ourselves in service to others, people will know about it. If God's Word is indeed planted in our heart and soul, the words we speak will reflect that.

We don't need to advertise what we believe, or whose we are - we just have to live it.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

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