Posted by: Philip Rushton | February 5, 2014

What This Year’s Super Bowl Ads Taught Me About Spirituality

imagesAccording to an article in the Washington Post, the average 30 second commercial during the Super Bowl last Sunday cost about 4 million dollars. That works out to about 133,000 dollars a second! As a result, the only companies that could afford this hefty price tag were the wealthy, well-established companies.

As I was watching the ads on Sunday I was struck by how odd it is that companies like Coke, Pepsi, and Budweiser feel the need to spend so much money on gaining exposure for their products. You would think they could stop advertising by now. We know what all these products are, how much they cost, and where we can purchase them. Nevertheless, these companies have realized that without constant exposure their message will get lost and their sales will drop. There is a reason they are willing to spend 133,000 dollars a second. So Pepsi continues to deceive us into thinking that their product will keep us forever young, and Budweiser persists in lying that it is the king of beers!

Now please here me when I say that I am in no way going to suggest that we should approach spiritual growth like we approach selling beer. Do not let the title of my post scare you off. Perhaps a good article to read along with this is a previous post I wrote, titled, “The Negative Impact of Consumerism on Spiritual Growth.” The connection I made to the spiritual life has to do with this concept of continual exposure.

I sometimes respond to the life of discipleship like I responded to these Super Bowl ads. You would think after all these years of going to worship services, attending small groups, doing service projects, and reading scripture I could stop by now. After all, I know the message of the gospel, and I have a basic understanding of how I should live my life and follow God.

While attending a Christian conference a few years ago, I had a conversation with a guy who decided to skip out on most of the sessions. I had stepped out of a session to use the bathroom and found him shaving. Since this was the first day I politely asked if he knew that our sessions had started and he responded by saying, “I already know all this stuff.”

I have to confess that sometimes I am that guy. I would even suggest that sometimes it is healthy to be that guy! I have attended conferences where I have been so saturated with ideas that it was necessary to take a break.

However, when this becomes our default disposition it can be problematic. Sure we may already know the message, but that is not the point. Christianity is not just about getting our facts straight. It is not a one time transaction (though sometimes we talk like it is). Jesus is not only “the truth,” he is also a “way,” and a “life.” (Jn 14:6). The spiritual life is a continuous journey of growth. Without continual exposure to scripture, prayer, worship, fellowship, and service we can run out of steam. To use Paul’s language in Galatians, we can get out of step with the Spirit.

I write this as an encouragement to those of you who are struggling to see the point in your spiritual journey these days. There are seasons when some of the things we do in the life of the church can seem irrelevant. Prayer may seem dry, scripture may not seem to connect with your life, or small groups interaction might be uncomfortable or uninspiring. Sometimes we are tempted to give up and say, “I already know all this stuff.” In times like this I think it is important to trust the process. Continual exposure to spiritual practices, Christian community, and the narratives of scripture shape our character over time.

Perhaps, then, there was something redemptive about slothfully sitting in front of the TV eating junk food last Sunday. I’m sorry to say that Budwieser and Pepsi wasted their millions on me, as I do not intend to buy their products anytime soon. However, their willingness to make a costly investment in the name of constant exposure gave me something to think about. At the very least it gave me an idea for a blog article this week!

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Responses

  1. There are two forms of knowing–one closes the door–the other keeps the door open to further seeking into that which is already known. Henry

  2. Not only do they constantly and consistently bomb barb us, the messages change; they provide new pictures of the same story. After 70 years of Sunday School, worship services and small groups, I get bored with the familiarity of the stories. I really appreciate new thoughts/insites about the old stories which give me new reasons to read the scripture for myself, new ideas to ponder and discuss. And, Phil, I did notice and thank you for writing Jesus is “a way” and “a life”. Doris

    • Thanks for expanding on the idea. I agree that we need to work at bringing to life our ancient texts and traditions in such a way that they speak to us today.

  3. Ideed, a great idea for your blog, and it gives me some thing to think about. Keep on keepin on, even when it seems redundant.

  4. Hi Phil, Thanks for recent Intersect which was so appreciated and thoughtful. We’re up in Vancouver; enjoying the Olympics; all the beauty of the Vancouver area; my home church in West Point Grey; and wondering if you or someone with the gift of mercy and compassion could possibly initiate an invitation and implementing of: Inviting Carl Ritzenthaler to the upcoming Men’s Breakfast event on Feb. 15th at the church. Understandably it would require one with a persevering and gentle spirit to carry it out. Anyways, have had it on my heart for weeks on end. Trusting God to guide you into His will as to who would be “up” for this ministry opportunity ! In Christ, Carol Fuller Date: Thu, 6 Feb 2014 04:40:54 +0000 To: oscarol2@msn.com


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