Got The Real Thing?
by Robin Swoboda-Wagner

I have come to the conclusion that I just don't fit in anywhere anymore! I was eagerly anticipating the Winter Olympics when just days before they started I read an article in the paper that made my heart sink. In the February 3, 2002 edition of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Winter Games promised to be "faster, wilder, more high-tech, more expensive and more in-your-face than any before them." The article went on to say NBC had paid $545 MILLION for the television rights to the game and wanted a generous return on its investment. Just how would they get that return? "The network is after the 18- to 34-year old male viewer whom advertisers covet." What? They couldn't care less if a 43-year old mother of three is watching? Apparently not.

I put this episode of feeling slighted out of my mind when I was hit with another one just days later. I had confidently placed my order via the speaker in the drive through lane at a fast food restaurant when I saw the sign. "WINNERS EAT STEAK!" Agghhhh!!! I had just ordered a burrito. A BEAN burrito! "I'm not a winner," I thought as I forced myself to drive up to the window. "How are you today?" the perky fellow asked as he took my money. "Well," I replied, "I guess I'm pretty lousy. I'd be a winner if only I'd ordered STEAK!"

You don't have to look very far in this culture to find "in-your-face" as well as subliminal messages that you just won't measure up unless you're a male, 18 to 34 years old, who eats steak and has a full head of hair! (Apparently, according to commercials for hair growing potions anyway, you have to have a full head of hair in order to attract a real babe!) We won't have romance without wearing a certain perfume, that driving a particular kind of car "may promote feelings of superiority" (and I can promise you it's not my minivan) and make sure in ALL you do you're drinking a Coke because we all know that "Things go better with Coke."

The culture tells us we are too short, too tall, too fat, too skinny, too young or too old.We're not wearing the right clothes, the right shoes or the right accessories. We won't be happy unless we have this car, that cell phone and the right computer. I could go on and on but you get the point. What's a person to do?

We will never find the validation and feelings of self-worth we want from the world. They're all just out to sell us something. Advertising agencies want to sell the concept of happiness and define needs we didn't even know we had.

However, there is something we all need but we don't look for it in the right place. We look to things and other people to give it to us. What is it? It is simply the need to be loved. Unconditionally. There is one who does love unconditionally and doesn't care if you're male or female or if you're eating steak or a bean burrito. He is God and He loves and accepts ALL of us. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all ONE in Christ Jesus."Galatians 3:28

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

We can't do enough to earn the love of God nor is there anything we can do to make Him not love us. He cares about every thing, little or big, that's going on in our lives and even knows the number of hairs on our heads!

Don't fall into the performance trap or the "I have to have THIS or I'll never be happy" trap. Fall into the arms of the Savior who died for you in order that you may stand blameless and pure before a Holy God. Ask Jesus how much we're loved. He stretched out His arms on a cross and said, "You are loved THIS much."

Madison Avenue can keep its slogans. As far as I'm concerned, Jesus Is The Only Real Thing.

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