Have you ever done it? The TV was on, the dude who was in fantastic shape was hawking some sort of apparatus that would absolutely give you rock hard abs or that body you’ve always wanted. Generally speaking there is some sort of sales pitch that all you gotta do is 20 min a day 3 days a week and you’ll have those abs you’ve always dreamed of?
They usually have some sort of before picture of some guy that looks pretty much like me; frumpy, misshapen, and well fed. Somehow; magically; with(apparently) 3 days a week at 20 minutes a day the after picture of a dude who is tan, shaven, bleached tips, and rock solid usually wearing a Speedo.
I first fell for this with an infomercial from this little sawed off 0% body fat, steroid monger with a mullet: Tony Little. The embarrassing thing was that he got me twice. I say it’s embarrassing because this guy is absolutely certifiably Richard Simpson crazy. He’s wound super tight, and pretty much everything he says has that sort of feeling as if it is coming from a car dealership commercial pitch man. It’s full of energy, life and ultimately crap. But he says it with so much confidence that this polished turd looks very compelling, even desirable.
The first time around was that little ab crunching machine that had a sort of over the head arm holder that you laid back into with your head on the scientifically designed for neck support padded head rest could roll into gut busting crunches with perfect ease and lumbar support. I don’t remember exactly how much I paid for it, but I assure you it was far too much.
A few years later was (and I can’t believe I’m admitting this) he snagged me with the Gazelle. This piece of flimsily constructed made in Taiwan machinery was designed by a team of engineers who as best I could tell wanted to see exactly how silly they could make you look and have you still buy in. It combined all sorts of unnatural movements that when combined kind of put you in the same position as Leonardo’s Vertruvian man had he been drawn in a running position.
What they don’t tell you, and this is really too bad because it’s true, is that these exercise things really are at their best when being used to dry wet clothes on. Simply put I had purchased an over priced indoor clothes line.
Oh don’t get me wrong, I gave each of these the ol’ college try for a few days. And it wasn’t long before I realized that 3 days a week at 20 minutes a day was in fact NOT all I had to do. It wasn’t even close. Worse, I realized that I had spent money on these stupid machines that I only had to apply myself and could accomplish the exact thing without any machine at all. Has anyone ever heard of jogging?
I think ultimately I was looking for what everyone is looking for; a short cut. A little pill that I could take a surgery I could get or something that could make the quest easier. The trouble is that it was hard. And after running the little half marathon I realized that as hard as I thought it would be, it was even harder. And I also realized that I had never felt better about myself, more accomplished, more fulfilled.
“All you gotta do.” That was what they said over and over again. “It’s so easy, all it takes is”. It kind of sounded familiar to me,and as I think about it, those are some of the very words that I had heard in the altar call when I first got saved. In fact it was also the same phrase I myself had used when doing youth ministry trying to get kids toget saved. “All you gotta do” is this simple prayer and you’re saved.
I meant well when I said it. I was doing my best to close the deal so the teenagers under my watch wouldn’t die and go to hell. In fact, I used that “if you die tonight line”. It’s a gigantic weight to feel the pressure to close that deal. So heavy that the tendency is too soft sell the idea. All you gotta do is “set it and forget it”. Just say this prayer. Simplify it. I see those hands going up. I see that hand. And bingo, I can rest easy. They were looking for a key to fulfillment and I had the perfect short cut. No commitment, no follow through, just this simple prayer.
When a rich young man came to Jesus and asked Him what He must do to obtain eternal life, Jesus didn’t soft sell him at all. He didn’t try to close the deal. And in fact, His “presentation of the gospel” was not very successful. The guy walked away.
Jesus seemed to not be selling a ticket out of hell, instead he was inviting them into eternal life. He was inviting them to be on His team; to be a part of His kingdom. He didn’t soft sell it. He never once asked the crowd to bow their heads and close their eyes.
So what meanest these things? Well what did you sign up for? Maybe there’s a reason that over 80% of our teens will fall away from the Lord when they graduate High School. Maybe they signed up for the wrong thing. Perhaps we didn’t understand exactly what we were doing when we agreed to follow Christ. What exactly does it mean to be “saved”. This is the entire idea behind Conduit. We are not just buying “fire insurance” as I heard it put yesterday. It’s so much more, so much better, so much more; well, Eternal.
Let’s talk about this tonight. 7:30pm at Journey Church in Building 8 at The Factory.