It's Black Friday and the bargains abound. Christmas shopping is in full force as bargain-hunters swiftly navigate the crowded aisles of stores and retailers rake in the profits. It's the day circled in red for every serious present-purchaser as the quest for deep discounts celebrates its day in the spotlight. I'm not out there this year (or at least that's my plan) but I've been out there in years past, and I have to admit, there is a certain adrenalin rush slapping down that credit card assured you have made the steal of the century. You're so confident that you got the best deal ever you're surprised you’re not arrested for grand larceny on your way out. I especially love those stores that print out your savings on the receipt -- "You spent $52 and saved $6,863,673!" There's just something about getting a great deal!
We humans love a great deal and maybe there's nothing wrong with that, but perhaps this quality reveals a flaw in our nature - we want something for as little investment as we can make. This mentality is fine for getting that electric frying pan at 70% off, but not so good for the things that really matter in life.
The Bible begins its story of God and man in a perfect garden where everything is the way that God designed it. The wheels fall off when the serpent, the evil one who really hates it that everything is going so well, offers mankind the deal of the century. "Just take a bite," he entices with all the savvy of a Black Friday sales brochure. "I've got an offer you just can't refuse. You can have everything you've ever wanted and it'll just cost you one small compromise." So Adam and Eve fall for the ploy and instead of getting everything they want, they lose everything they had.
Like Adam and Eve we all love a good deal and this one seemed too good to resist. But we learned the lesson the hard way - some things don't go on sale.
We want the perfect marriage for 45% less effort. We want the promotion at work for 15% less work. We want the good grades at half-off. We want a successful life but want it at a 70% savings. We want a great relationship with God but want it at 14% of retail price. It goes against our nature to pay full price and we've been paying the price ever since.
We need to know that there are some things don’t go on sale, but we also need to know that there are some things that are worth full price! A theme of Jesus' teaching is that we need to make full commitment to those things that matter the most. He talks about dying to ourselves, taking up our cross, making ourselves last - in essence he says there is a high price to be paid to experience the life he has come to offer us. There are no discounts on abundant life, but there are no regrets for those who make the investment.
If you're out there today looking for the deal of the century, I hope you've found it. But more than that I hope you find the peace and joy that comes from a life that resists the quick-fixes and the shortcuts that end up costing us so much more than we save.
On this Black Friday remember that there are some things that are worth full price!