Engrossed

In 1982, the Bounty brand of paper towels achieved skyrocketing levels of sales with their new advertising campaign. The campaign centered around the tag line, “the quicker picker upper.” The first commercial of the series features a gentleman at a restaurant counter who spills his soup. Rosie, the waitress, chastises the patron saying, “Surprise me, Joe, get a little in your mouth. How can your wife keep up with ya?” Joe responds, “With a rag.” Rosie pops a bundle of Bounty paper towels on the counter and say, “What she needs is Bounty. It’s the quicker picker upper.” Then Rosie pulls two small glasses of liquid from behind the counter. She takes the “other brand” of paper towel and the Bounty brand and sticks one of each in a glass. Bounty absorbs all of the liquid, and when the glass is turned over no liquid leaks out. The “other brand” soaks up some of the liquid and when the glass is turned over some of the liquid leaks onto the counter. The result is clear: Bounty absorbs faster and is stronger than the other brand. 

I believe that it is easy for us, as Christians, to be absorbed by the things of this world. The Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 7:31 says, “those who use the things of the world should do so as if not being engrossed in them” (emphasis added). What we take in with our eyes, what we hear with our ears, and what we take into our bodies becomes a part of who we are. Being engrossed is having our attention and interest being absorbed by someone or something. 

There is a continual struggle in the Christian’s heart to avoid becoming enamored by the things of this world. Some items that catch our attention are obvious, like material possessions. What kind of house we live in, what kind of car we drive, what kinds of clothes we wear, what kinds of items we possess, and how they possess us are easily identified subjects of interest. It is my hypothesis that disentangling ourselves from the philosophies and ideas that engross us proves much more difficult. 

If we spend any time in God’s Word, we must admit that not all of the philosophies and ideas of this world are in alignment with God’s best for our lives. In fact, some of the worldly philosophies are so seductive and enticing that without critically thinking about them we may never know they have entrapped us. We become more absorbed by these ideas and philosophies than we ever do in material things. These philosophies are what undergirds our materialistic appetites. 

One of the most dangerous philosophies we can choose to embody states, “This world is created for our happiness.” This idea seems to be undergirded by America’s Declaration of Independence when it says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” From these words we can gather the idea that our pursuit of happiness is among life’s most important goals. 

If we organize our lives around our pursuit of happiness, we will be on the opposite side of the spectrum from where God desires us to be. God’s greatest desire is not our temporary happiness. God’s greatest desire is our worship. God desires that every act, every word, and every thought be centered on honoring Him with our whole person. Romans 12:1 states, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God for this is your spiritual act of worship.” 

When the Apostle Paul addressed the Corinthian church he is sure to inform them “that the time is short” (29). The time we live on this earth is temporary and Paul’s words encourage us not to get settled in for this is not our home. Paul writes it this way to the church at Philippi, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly away a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” 

One of my foibles is the fact that I like sleeping only on “my” bed. I am NEVER satisfied sleeping without “my” pillow and “my” blankets. Even when I go to my parent’s home in Kansas, their bed, blankets, and pillows make me feel like I’m sleeping on a bed of nails. I absolutely loathe having to sleep at hotels and the worst part of my night on those occasions is having to sleep with someone else’s bed, blanket, and pillows. I will not be settled in any other bed but my own. My spirit cannot be at ease anywhere else. When I am somewhere else, my heart longs to be in my own bed. 

In the mind of God, this world is another bed, with another pillow, and unfamiliar blankets. We are called through scripture not to ever be settled in the ways of this temporary life we live. We cannot be comfortable or at ease in any other place than our heavenly home beside the object of our worship, Jesus Christ. 

The Apostle Paul’s words continue encouraging us not to be engrossed by the world when he says, “From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not.” All earthly relationships are secondary to our relationship with God. Paul believed, and rightly so, that the time spent in earthly relationships can distract our focus away from our devotion and worship of God. We must be attentive to what relationships we spend time cultivating. Our relationships should be lived out “along the way” of God’s greater plan for our lives and for His Kingdom. 

Paul addresses our temporary emotions by saying, “those who mourn, should do so as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not” (emphasis added). Our happiness or sadness, or any other emotional response, are based in temporary feelings. Feelings are powerful things but we must not make decisions based upon them. We are instead to make our decisions based on God’s character and God’s desires for our future. 

If we think our goal is to make ourselves, happy we will surround ourselves with relationships that we use to this end. We will build temporary kingdoms that satisfy our desires, and we will make decisions on how things “feel” to us. Paul concludes by addressing the material items we gain in this life, “those who buy something, should do so as if it were not theirs to keep” (emphasis added). We are called to lives as simply as we can in this world. The primary use of our resources are for the furtherance of God’s Kingdom.   

Finally, Paul greets the church at Galatia with these words, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age.” In the Greek, Paul is applying a metaphor here. He pictures the “present evil age” as a fisherman’s net that is set to entangle us, engross us, entice us, entrap us, and enamor us. Jesus rescues and redeems our lives for His glory. Let’s live our lives fully for our Savior!

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