Rock Bridge Christian Church, 1.26.14
In our house over the last couple of months, Jamie and I have been pondering some big purchases. You see, our ancient computer from way back in 2009 runs quite a bit slower than it used to, and it can be infuriating to say the least. And those couches we bought five years ago are a little worse for the wear now that our cat Wyatt has made them his favorite scratching post. We’ve been wrestling with how seductive it is, especially for those of us who have means, to just go get what we want. A new couch. A new computer. The list could go on.
Replace the old, acquire the new – get what we want when we want it. These are the gifts we give to ourselves – our little allegiances (to follow this morning’s sermon).
I heard a piece on the radio this past week about what is called “anticipatory package shipping.” Anticipatory package shipping is a system that will ship products before customers have actually bought them, and the online retail giant Amazon has a patent for this practice.
They will box and ship products that they expect customers to buy based on searches, previous purchases, wish lists, and – get this – how long a user’s cursor hovers over an item online. (npr.org) Basically they are developing algorithms that assess your behavior and then ship you the package before you even know you want it. My mind is a little bit blown by all of this – and all the consumerism that props up this kind of system. Let’s get what we want when (or before) we want it.
With these personal and societal impulses as my backdrop, I read today’s gospel text. It was a bit jarring to read about how Andrew and Peter left their nets immediately when Jesus called. No questions asked, no deliberation, no price comparisons or shopping around. And then James and John did it too. They left their boat and their father, and followed Jesus. In terms of possessions, material resources, money this story has nothing to do with what they acquired, and everything to do with what they gave up and what they gave away. Their allegiance shifted from getting to giving, and I think it’s the same for us when we choose to follow Jesus.