The gospel of Jesus is not the only ‘message of hope’ I hear today. Messages bombard me every time I turn on the TV, open a magazine, walk into a shopping mall, or even when I visit friends. The messages all tell me that owning that car will make me powerful, or wearing this label of clothing will put me in amongst the hip and cool, or using that telephone company will somehow bring about world peace and harmony.
I live in a world that promises much. I can find the answer to all my problems in acquiring an assortment of goods and services – from holiday houses to toothpaste. This is salvation! The Promised Land is just over the horizon (i.e. post-purchase).
I’ve come to realise there is no neutral, value-free space. I literally face competing views of ‘the road to salvation’ every day. With these loud, alternative messages ringing in my ears, I have to work really hard to listen for the truth: that God loves and accepts me as family; that the possessions I have and my social status are of no worth when it comes to measuring true success in life; that sacrificial giving for others is somehow better than receiving. These messages are hard to hear, but they are true and if I – we – have the courage to accept them we will be on the track to living something that is worthy to be called ‘life’.
To do this, we need to work hard. We need the regular encouragement and inspiration of others that are also on the road. We need to keep the bible stories of God’s interaction with people in our minds and hearts. We need to ask God for eyes to see the true way ahead.
The alternative is that we merge with the traffic onto the highway of unfulfillable promises. It guarantees us the whole world but only delivers car crashes.
Which way we go is up to us. All I know is that the car is moving and there is a fork in the road ahead.