The Christian and the Con Game
Periodically a person will receive a piece of mail offering them a free meal at a nice restaurant and the card they receive will tell them all they have to do to receive this free meal is call a toll free telephone number to reserve a seat, or perhaps it will be a card in the mail telling them they are the lucky winner of a three day four night vacation package in a nice hotel in southern Florida or some other exotic location. When I receive mail of this kind, I ask myself. “Why was I the fortunate one to receive this spectacular free offer?” The answer is “The people who sent me the card hopes to get something of greater value from me.” As we grow older we realize it is not in the nature of selfish man to give away something for nothing. Therefore, if we are considering accepting their offer, we had better be prepared to count the cost before we make a rash decision to buy something we don’t need.
When I was a young man, my daddy told me, “If something sounds to good to be true, it probably is.” And as I have grown older, I have come to realize he was right. Nobody gives away something for nothing, and that includes our salvation. The offer we receive cost somebody something, and for another person to be a partaker of the offering, they will pay a dear price. The Lord God paid a terrible price to enrich our life, and if we want to be a partaker of His offering, it will cost us our life. In this case, the offering adds something of far greater value to us, it takes nothing of value away from us. But that is not the kind of offer I am talking about in this short lesson on the Christian and the con game. There was a famous man who said, “There is a sucker born every minute.” These words could have come straight from of the mouth of Satan because that is the assumption he operates under in this world. So I guess the famous man knew what he was talking about because he made a fortune off of people coming to watch a few exotic animals perform tricks. I know there was more to his business than just the animals, but the animals were the attraction, or maybe I should say, ‘distraction’, that drew the people to the grounds to be fleeced by the people who ran the booths lining game show row.
The times have changed and the con game has taken on a new look. Today, it is easier to build carnival rides than it is to train animals, so for the most part the animals have been replaced with flashing lights and loud music. But let me tell you, this kind of business is only the tip of the iceberg, and most people are aware of what to expect when they spend a night at the carnival. The carnival owners are still working the old game, but there are many new businesses that have appeared on the worlds stage that are much more deceptive and they don’t use lights and music to draw their customers. The men and women who run these types of businesses aren’t scraggly looking humans coverd in tattoo’s, they are sharp dressers, highly educated, operate out of big tall buildings and live in big fine houses. And like their predecessors, they have been taught if a person can be distracted for even a short time, they can be picked clean by a good con artist and sent home feeling good about the fact they had a good time giving away their hard earned money. They understand that if they have a product that looks good and makes people feel good, they can be separated from their money rather easily. So, this man from long ago was right on the money. There is a sucker born every minute, and for every sucker made, there is a confectionist cooking up another recipe flavor that will accomplish the same purpose as the other, even though it is of another flavor.
The biggest legal scheme to ever come upon the world scene and especially in the USA are called credit card companies operating under the guise of purchasing power. They promise the world to the unsuspecting, but the end results of owning that piece of plastic spells financial disaster for the poor man. They are not after the poor man’s pay check, these people are after their financial livelihood. When I think about credit card companies and their offerings, I think of fishing. The fisherman fastens a line to a lure with a barbed hook in it that makes the lure irresistable to the fish, and when a fish strikes it, the hook with the sharp barb strikes back as it slips easily through the flesh of the fishes mouth. Once the hook is set, the fish is rendered helpless, and all it can do from that point forward is struggle against the constant pull of the fishermans line as the fisherman reels him in. Do you hear me? Once that fish is in the fishermans boat or upon the bank of the pond or lake, the fish is at the mercy of the fisherman. Like the fish the poor man is unaware of the hidden danger the mail carrier cast into their mail box. Like the fisherman cast his lure into a steam of water, so the credit card companies cast their baited lures of instant credit into the main stream of life. And while they wait for the poor man to take the bait, they sit back and relax over coffee while planning their next con game. Once the poor man sees the possibilities of obtaining everything the rich man down the street has and starts using the card, they are hooked and ready for cleaning. What appears to be an easy way to improve the poor man’s quality of life, soon becomes financially deadly for the one who takes the bait.
The government maintains strict concern for the fish, and have hired wardens to oversee the fishing industry, but not so for the poor man. If a species of fish is too small the government puts them off limits to the fisherman until that fish reaches an acceptable size. Not so for the poor man, one they reach a certain age, they become fair game whether they qualify for credit or not, and when the poor man falls behind in their payments to the credit card companies, the credit card companies have the blessings of the government to make that poor man’s life a living hell by adding exorbitant penalties, and late fee’s ontop of late fee’s to the already too burdensome problem. To my way of thinking, if the government really cared about what happens to their fellow man as much as they do for the fishing industry, they would set limits on what the credit card mongrels can and cannot do.
The con game has been around as long as man has been on the earth and every con game works on the same premise that people are greedy by nature. People don’t seem to understand that for every person out there working hard to get what they have, there is another person who is working just as hard to try and get it away from them. As Christians, we are suppose to know better, but it is apparent we have not yet learned to stop swallowing the baited hook of the credit card companies because the number of Christians in debt is just as high as the number of unbelievers who don’t know any better.
God has been gracious to us and has given us a book of instruction to guide us through life that warns us of the hidden dangers that lie around every bend and behind every corner. If we adhere to the teachings in the book, we would be aware of the tricks of the devil and we would avoid many of the snares Satan sets for us. But man who is always looking for a shortcut, gets snookered into doing foolish things that cost him dearly in the end. We all would do well to understand that there is absolutely nothing in life that is free. All we need to do to understand this simple fact, is to take a look around us at the suffering going on in the lives of our friends and neighbors. We aren’t physically blind, but we may as well be, because we have yet to arrive at the understanding that suffering isn’t natural, it is abnormal. If suffering is abnormal than we should steer clear of it. Man wasn’t created to suffer, He was created to live a good life after the similitude of God. But because of our selfish and greedy nature, we oftentimes find ourselves on the other end of that spectrum. So when we see or hear about something that is too good to be true, run in the opposite direction as fast as your legs will carry you. DThrash