I can't recall the company (the first sign of a bad advertisement), but I remember the concept vividly. It involves a couple, presumably in their late 60s or early 70s, who have recently retired and are very happy with the company that has counseled them in their savings over the years. However, after all those hard years of working and putting money away for retirement, they are now faced with a dilemma - how are they going to spend all this money? I mean, no one ever told them what to do with it once it was time to spend it. How awful that must be!
The commercial goes on to explain how this financial company not only helps you save, but when it's time, will help you spend. The ad ends by the husband deciding that they're ready to "tackle the coral reef." But wait, the wife wants a trip to Paris! Well, I guess Paris will come first and then it's off to the reef. Aww, what a great story. A nice couple livin' the American dream!
I would bet that most people watched that commercial, took slight note, and continued on with their lives as if nothing had happened. I mean, what's the big deal right? We're all supposed to be saving for the future, one of these days we'll have wished we'd listened when our neighbors have two million in their retirement account and we've got a measly 500 thousand.
Listen closely . . .
If you claim to be a Christian and this is the life that you see yourself living or hope to have, you need to take a serious look at who you are and what you believe in. Let me toss a few numbers at you, just for the sake of casual information.
In 2005 alone, AIDS claimed an estimated 2.4–3.3 million lives, of which more than 570,000 were children.
It has been estimated that in 2001, 1.1 billion people had consumption levels below $1 a day and 2.7 billion lived on less than $2 a day.
One third of deaths - some 18 million people a year or 50,000 per day - are due to poverty-related causes. That's 270 million people since 1990, the majority women and children, roughly equal to the population of the US.
Every year nearly 11 million children die before their fifth birthday.
800 million people go to bed hungry every day.
I'm fighting back tears as I write this and I think of the two dollar coffee I bought myself during my break in class this afternoon. Not to mention the 15 dollars I drop on a new CD every month or the 200 dollars I dropped on an mp3 player after I graduated college.
"Oh, but Kiel. That's not our problem! There's people that will step up and take care of this. And even if they don't, it's not our fault that we were born here in America and they were born there."
As one woman I worked with last year put it, after telling me that her son was wanting to live in Africa and treat the sick after he received his degree in medicine - "I can't believe he wants to waste his life like that."
I wonder what Jesus has to say about this?
"And he told them this parable: The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.
Then he said, This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.
But God said to him, You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?
This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God." - Luke 16-21
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'" - Matthew 25:41-45
Shame on all of us for shrugging our shoulders to a culture that tells us to hoard money for ourselves and build bigger barns so that we will have ample goods for ourselves while millions die from a lack of food to eat and clean water to drink. If you are a Christian, take a VERY serious look at what you stand for and what you want to do with your life, because one day every one of us will be asked to give an account for what you did with what you were given.
God help us.