Church distributes $ 600,000 in gift cards
REMARK: Today, most of the books in our online store are at 50% off. Now is a great time to stock up on resources and gifts to help you and others gain a biblical understanding to discern the news differently. Please use the promo code THANK YOU at checkout to take half of your entire order. Thank you for your support, and may God bring you joy throughout the coming Christmas season.
The Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church in Fort Washington, Md., Facilitated the vacation of a thousand people last Sunday. Volunteers handed out $ 50 grocery gift cards to drivers lined up outside their church campus.
The congregation has distributed over $ 600,000 in gift cards since the spring of last year, while providing meals and boxes of food in partnership with the county government and local groups. All this despite the fact that the church has not met in person since the start of the pandemic, but tithing continues online with regularity.
Compare their generosity with this report: 86% of consumers will shop over Thanksgiving weekend. They will spend an average of $ 491 between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, for a total of over $ 108 billion.
Know the 3 Black Friday strategies
“Black Friday” takes its name from the Philadelphia Police Department, who coined the term in the 1960s to describe the challenges they faced during this annual shopping spree. But the day and the weekend are also crucial for traders who hope to end the year in the “dark”.
To be successful, they must convince us of three things:
- We need something they are selling.
- We have to buy it from them.
- We have to buy it now.
The first step is obviously essential afterwards. For example, when Janet and I visited Philadelphia a few years ago, we passed a lot of stores selling Eagles accessories. I was never tempted because, as a Cowboys fan, the last thing I want to wear is an Eagles jersey. (Not to mention the danger to life and physical integrity if I did it at home.) I’m sure Eagles fans visiting Dallas feel the same about the memories of the Cowboys.
If we can’t be convinced that we need everything the retailer is looking to sell, the process ends before it begins. Hence the plethora of Christmas announcements that seem to start earlier each year. Many include “social proof” where happy customers tell us why this product has been so valuable to them and why we will be just as grateful when we buy it for ourselves.
Then we have to be convinced that we have to buy this product from the retailer who advertises it. So Black Friday sales that compete with other sales to convince us that theirs is the lowest price, the best service, etc.
Finally, we have to be convinced that we have to buy their product now. For example, one-day promotions, threats of price increases when stocks are exhausted, etc.
Do People Need Christ to Go to Heaven?
Here’s my point: Since Christians are called to share the good news of Christ’s birth and love for Christmas, our spiritual enemy is working hard to use the three strategies against us.
First, he wants us to believe that others do not need what the gospel offers, that everyone goes to heaven, whether they personally trust Christ as their Savior or not. This heresy is known as “universalism” and is gaining popularity within a postmodern culture that believes all truth is personal and subjective.
According to a new survey by Pew, 39% of American adults believe that people who don’t believe in God can go to heaven; 27 percent do not believe in Heaven at all. Only 32 percent say unbelievers cannot go to Heaven.
Surprisingly, more than one in five evangelists agree that unbelievers can go to Heaven. And forty-seven percent of Christian Millennials say evangelism is the improper imposition of their values on others.
An infernal parable
If Satan cannot convince us that others do not need the gospel, he will counter the second strategy whereby retailers seek to persuade us to buy the product from them. Known as ‘pluralism’, this is the heresy that ‘all roads lead to the same mountain’, the claim that Christianity is not unique and that all religions have the same. goal.
The Pew survey (cited above) reports that nearly one in five evangelists believe that “some non-Christian religions can lead to eternal life in paradise.” This despite Jesus’ clear statement: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me ”(John 14: 6). And Peter’s bold statement, “There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4: 12).
If we resist universalism and pluralism, Satan will strive to counter the retailer’s third claim that we must buy his product today. Despite the biblical statement that “now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6: 2), the devil wants us to believe that those who need Christ have plenty of time to listen and respond.
There is an old parable about the time when Satan called a city meeting, asking his demons for ways to prevent Christians from sharing their faith. One of them stood up and said, “I’ll tell them there is no heaven. Satan replied, “It will never work. God made them for himself and there is something about them that believes there is life beyond this life. They won’t believe you.
A second demon stood up and said, “I’ll tell them there is no hell.” Satan replied, “It won’t work either. Humans have an innate sense of right and wrong and intuitively believe that evil should be punished. They won’t believe you.
Silence settled in the assembly. Then a demon stood at the back of the room and said, “I’ll tell them there’s no rush.” And Satan said, “Go. “
Did he find you today?
Why the Church exists
On the first “Black Friday,” Jesus died on our cross to pay for our sins and buy our salvation. You and I have now received the greatest news in history: anyone who asks him to forgive his sins and become his Savior and Lord becomes a child of God and receives eternal life with our Heavenly Father (John 1:12).
This Christmas season, let us resolve to share Christ with those we influence. Let us remind them of the reason for the season, inviting them to invite the Child of Bethlehem to make his manger in their hearts. Let us ask God to guide us and use us to share the gift someone has shared with us. Let us bring the gospel of grace and thus transform the holidays into holy days.
CS Lewis said: “The Church exists only to draw men into Christ.
For what purpose do you exist today?
(For more on the spiritual dimensions of our cultural materialism, see Mark Legg’s excellent article on our website, “Our Black Friday Consumerism is a Battleground for the Soul of America.”)