Unsatisfied in a world of hype

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Thankfully, last night the NFL draft finally got underway. Since my team, the Indianapolis Colts, had the first pick--due to their awful season which itself was the result of Peyton Manning's injury--I and other football fans didn't have much suspense. But that hadn't stopped all of the endless hype on sports radio, TV, and websites about the NFL draft, Andrew Luck, RG3, and mock drafts galore. The implications of all the hype was that you would be a foolish, ignorant, uncivilized boor to miss the first of three days (!) of the NFL draft.

And so, I followed along on my iPad through the entire first round (since we got rid of cable last year, I don't have ESPN anymore, so I live streamed the NFL network on my iPad). Just like I did last year because of the hype. Just like I have for most overhyped sporting events, even sports I don't care about. Just like I have for other TV "events" like the CMA awards or American Idol. The hype always gets me.

And it always leaves me unsatisfied.

I watch the draft, the national college championship game, the Masters, and other must-see events only to find that the hype never matches reality. In fact, the hype never can match the reality because the hype creates expectations that so far exceed what is possible in this life. The weight of glory isn't for this life after all--and yet, that is what hype invariably promises.

What is striking to me is that Christians (like me) not only can get sucked into the hype of our times, but we also propagandize with the same kinds of hype. 

This morning, I was on one Christian publisher's website where they were promoting a book with the words, "if you only read one book this year, make it this one. It is that important." Really? That important? Or I flip through my Twitter feed to find people promoting this professor as brilliant and witty and excellent or that conference as not to be missed. Or I have read countless tweets of shameless self-promotion--not (merely) passing on what others have said about me, but simply cutting out the middleman and saying glorious things about myself. We've lost the language of Zion and instead speak with the hype of Vanity Fair.

Now, I certainly understand the need for marketing and promotion; after all, I have written books too that I would very much like people to read. It reminds me of a press conference that Bruce Springsteen held in 2009 as he was preparing to play the Super Bowl halftime show. Someone asked the Boss why he was finally playing the Super Bowl and he said, somewhat sheepishly yet forthrightly, "Well, you know, I have this album coming out at the end of the month." So, I get the fact that word of mouth and "raising visibility" are necessary when one has product to sell and a message to promote.

But I think we have to be careful when we participate in hype-filled promotion. Because as wonderful as God's Grand Design might be (notice the careful placement here), or whatever other book, conference, professor, seminary, or the like might be, none of these things can really satisfy our hearts. And because they cannot, people will soon become cynical about our claims and begin to look through our hype. They'll realize that we are not for Jesus, but really for ourselves.

Instead, we need always to be careful to take people to the only One who can really satisfy our hearts. Even if that means that my books don't sell that well; even if that means I don't earn applause and exert influence; even if that means that I remain relatively unknown. Maybe we need to temper our self-marketing, our hype, with the words of the Apostle Paul: "Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Gal 6:14).
Posted April 27, 2012 @ 9:38 AM by Sean Lucas
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