Pastor's Blog

The water in our town is very hard.  When my wife and I were very young we considered the purchase of a water softener.  We contacted a company and the salesman came to our home to give us his pitch.  When he came into the house, I told him, “I’m not buying anything tonight.  I know this will be a lot of money and I want time to think about it.”

He smiled, agreed, and for the next three hours he tested our water and showed us the results and explained what they meant and then he showed us pictures of water softeners and patiently explained how they worked.  We asked a lot of questions and he answered them.

At the end of the evening he said, “So, if you’re ready to purchase, I’ll need you to sign right here on this line.”  And he handed me the pen.

I didn’t take the pen.  I reminded him that I told him at the beginning of the evening that I wasn’t purchasing anything tonight, but I greatly appreciated his presentation.  I wanted time to consider the purchase.

Rather than respecting my decision, the salesman flew into a red-faced rage.  “You just put me through a three-hour presentation.  I answered every one of your questions.  I have a wife and kids at home, but I came out this evening and gave you my time – only to have you tell me you’re NOT buying my water softener?!?!”

“I told you that I wasn’t buying TONIGHT,” I said.  “I told you that when you came in.”

This sent him back through the same tantrum and I became more convinced that I would NEVER buy from this man.  He finally packed up his test kit and left the house in a boisterous huff.

I wanted time to think through the decision and time to talk it over privately with my wife.
He didn’t want to afford me that time. 
So why didn’t he want me to think too much?  Why was a spur of the moment decision so important to him?  If the facts about his product could stand on their own, they would be true tonight, and they would be true tomorrow after I’d given it thought and done more research.  The need to manipulate my feelings told me he wasn’t confident about his product, and THAT smacked of deceit and dishonesty.

If the naked truth is true and good, why bypass my mind and appeal to my feelings?

This is the reason I don’t like gimmicks.  Gimmicks seem to me just another form of emotional manipulation – a way to do an end run around my mind, an appeal to something other than my thinking.  Why do you need something beyond the truth? 

I don’t like gimmicks and manipulation in sales, and I don’t like it in Christianity.  If something is good, if something is true, the naked truth should be sufficient to persuade me of it.  If you had to manipulate my feelings, then when my feelings change – which is bound to happen – so will my feelings about what you sold me – or told me.

Over the years I’ve run into a lot of people who “became Christians”, not because they believed the claims of Jesus, not because they were convicted of sin and knew deep within their hearts that they had to turn to God for forgiveness in Christ, but because they were temporarily made afraid of dying, or because they were sad at the loss of a loved one and they were temporarily made happy at the thought of one day being reunited with that loved one, or because they were made temporarily made happy at the thought of living in a pain-free trouble-free eternity.

And when the feelings passed, so did their “Christianity”.

Jesus and the apostles didn’t teach that way and I think it’s a dishonest travesty to emotionally manipulate people that way, even in the best of causes.

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