Wednesday, May 6, 2009

for you and 10 friends

This week, I received three seemingly unrelated emails that converged into one very disturbing reality. The first email offered me free money (amazing!). That's right. Apparently, the federal government has stacks of cash laying around in the basement of some building just waiting to be claimed. If I would respond quickly, I might qualify! First come, first served. Honest.

The second email urgently pleaded with me to sign a petition to fight a piece of legislation. The tone of the letter was reminiscent of Edmund Burke's warning: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." If I "click here" I really could make difference.

Like you, I get dozens of these emails a day. Fortunately, most of them get rerouted to my junk mail folder and I never have to deal with them. It's the third email that troubles me. It's a reflection on "the joy that comes from appreciating the little things in life," or something nostalgic like that. I get one of these messages, usually with an attached Powerpoint presentation, embedded hymn audio, Thomas Kinkade painting or tear-jerking story scribed in 8 different exotic fonts.

This week's email of the "little things" included puppies, the breath of a sleeping baby, fresh laundry on the backyard line and the tinkle of wind chimes in the spring breeze. Then [and this is my frustration], I read the line: "Send this to at least 10 friends right now and see what God does! Don't break the chain. If you REPLY and add nine friends to this list, you will be amazed at the incredible 'little things' that will begin to happen in your own life."

Oh brother. In the words of John Stossel, "Give me a break!"

Do we really believe that there's a blessing to be gained because we spammed 9 friends (now former friends) with an email framed with 1980's clip art pictures? Does anyone really think they can twist God's arm into giving them the goods because they passed on the poem? If you do, I know a rich woman in Uganda who would like to send you $100,000.

I can guess three reasons why we continue to get these emails...even from well-intentioned Christians. First, many people are desperate for a touch from God. Their time with God has grown so cold that they're genuinely hoping that something--anything--will ignite the fire of revival. Second, some have lost a view of sovereignty. Many people in the Bible viewed God's blessings as something to be earned. No doubt, God rewards faith [Hebrews 11:6]. But, God does many good things apart from human action. He isn't a divine marionette waiting for us to pull His strings. He does act in mysterious ways. Finally, some are unsure of their identity. To confess, I have been tempted to forward some of these emails because I haven't wanted to be the one that copped out, broke the chain or caused the universe to spin off its axis. That's fear. And, it's a misunderstanding of who I really am in Christ.

So, please don't be offended if I don't pass the emails along. I'll connect with God and enjoy His goodness the old fashioned way: by grace. I hope you will too.

[Please send this posting to 10 of your friends in the next 10 minutes so they will be encouraged too :-)]


Friends said...

Amen! I don't forward them either.

Suzy Finigan said...

The other day I received an email from a former co-worker that was one of these freaky chain letters. This one hinted that if I didn't forward it on, I would perhaps meet a horrible fate like others who hadn't forwarded it. I deleted it and laughingly told some co-workers about it. They said I was risking death. This gave me the chance to tell them that I didn't believe in luck...good or bad...but that my faith and protection was from God. The same week I was able to gently explain to everybody why I wasn't going in on their lotto pool...because God is my provider. (BTW, I haven't met a horrible fate and the lotto group at work didn't win.)

The Batman said...

We humans are an amazingly stupid race. We forward emails about the latest computer virus hoax or sick Scottish children who want to set a world record for collecting postcards without checking on their veracity...yet we persist in doubting the God who never changes, who is as good today as he was 3,000 years ago, and whose track record is perfect and spotless.

Oh, how great is His love to put up with such fools!