Monday, July 25, 2011

Shortcut in a Bottle

One time I walked into a college dorm room to find a friend of mine glued to the television, watching an infomercial. Of course I thought this was odd, I think infomercials may be the way that God punishes people who stay up too late at night. I am not sure why they even call them “info” instead of just really long commercials. It is not like that actually involve any thing informative. This particular infomercial was selling some type of dietary supplement which they basically said was “Exercise in a Bottle.”

It seemed that my friend was totally buying it. He seemed genuinely excited about being able to be slim and trim by just taking this pill when he wakes up in the morning. I had to laugh a little. Even as a young college student, I was learning that things are almost never that simple or easy. As an adult, it often seems comical how bent our culture is on attaining meaningful goals without putting in the necessary effort. May be you would not get exercise in a bottle, but how about a surgery? How about being able to skip over years of hard work and go straight into financial security simply by choosing the right lottery numbers?
In Matthew 16, Jesus calls Peter quite possibly the worst name thing he could - “Satan.” This seems really strange, because in the previous paragraph, Jesus was telling Peter that he was going to be the rocky foundation of his future community on earth. The reason why Peter was rebuked so strongly was that he had just rebuked his teacher. Jesus told Peter that he was going to suffer and die, but Peter could not believe that Jesus would have to suffer so mightily. Peter seems to have been thinking, “surely there is an easier way, some kind of shortcut around it.” The idea is actually very similar to what Satan offered Jesus in Matthew 4:8. 
It seems that there are an increasing number of shortcuts that arise around us. Sometimes even religious ones. Some would suggest that you can be close to God simply by donating to their cause. Other voices might say that you can shortcut religion itself and simply be “spiritual.” Unfortunately, Jesus’ words should echo in our minds a reminder of how the promise of shortcuts inevitably leads to something that is short-lived, or not even lived at all (as was the “exercise in a bottle,” which was probably just caffeine and Ephedra).

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