• Steven Marsh

Packaging God: a Reflection on Psalm 20, Isaiah 55:1-13, Galatians 5:16-24, and Mark 9:2-13

I was disappointed to learn, while reading a recent issue of The Week, that SkyMall, the airline shopping magazine, was closing. The parent company has filed bankruptcy. At one time in my life, I travelled extensively for outside speaking events, visiting mission partners, or working on denominational matters. But a constant companion, wherever I was travelling, was the SkyMall magazine in the seatback in front of me. And the merchandise was expensive. I remember purchasing some Christmas Stockings to hang on the fireplace mantle. They were lovely, personalized, and high quality, but over-the-top costly. Now there are so many other options on flights to provide avenues of entertainment.

Being a follower of Jesus these days is costly. At least it should be. But, we have become so good at “getting the God experience packaged” so that no one has to spend more than 60 minutes at church if they wish. God and our experience with God is becoming something other I’m afraid. Life in the Spirit is an intellectual concept and the desires of the flesh continue to occupy more of our time.

God wants to grant us our desires and fulfill our plans. I wonder, however, if we approach God like an appointment, are we even aware of our desires and plans other than to “get er’ done” to quote Larry the Cable Guy? The higher value is to get the appointment done and the item checked off the list.

In a time when efficiency is god, seeking God is increasingly difficult given the other demands. But Isaiah challenges us to seek God while God can be found.

I am captured by the thought that there will come a time when God can no longer be found. None of us know when Jesus will return again and claim his church. The desires of the flesh that Paul lists off take so much of our time. And I’m afraid that because we have packaged God into a sixty minute time-slot that impurity, envy, factions, and carousing have become our friends. We’ve become too chummy with fleshy impulses.

God cannot be packaged and put on a shelf, much like Peter, James, and John attempted to do at the Transfiguration. God wants our loyalty and presence.

Let’s get over our lists and compartmentalization of life. Following Jesus and participating in God’s mission is a 24/7, 365 day experience with greater value than any of those SkyMall items, particularly the $2,250 garden yeti statue.

Scripture readings are taken from the two-year daily lectionary cycle which follows the liturgical calendar and begins on the First Sunday of Advent.

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