A number of years ago a particular satellite television provider was running a very attractive special on monthly rates for new subscribers. We had lived long enough to know that anything that seemed too good to be true probably was. And so, because we were still somewhat skeptical regarding hidden extra costs and fees, we continually sought – and gained – the salesperson’s repeated assurances that the price as quoted, would be the price we paid. And so, we bought in. And it was then that the nightmare began!
It seemed like every couple of months our bill would increase slightly as some new charge was subtly inserted into our total amount due. I recall one case where they added a couple of new, “free,” complimentary channels… and ironically, our monthly premium still went up for some “mysterious” reason. I remember having to call and correct them on a regular basis because of some new phantom cost-increase or “special offer” we had neither wanted nor requested. Suffice it to say that when that contract ended, so did our experience with that satellite provider – forever.
Fast forward to a week or two ago. My wife and I were out shopping when approached by a salesman from a different satellite provider. He was polite, polished, and well-prepared. Although very leery, weary, and as skeptical as ever, we actually gave him a few minutes to present his pitch. We explained our previous bad experience with his company’s competitor – to which he of course reassured us that his company was not like that at all. We considered it. His company’s package was very good; the price was competitive; and it was locked in for two full years, after which we could cancel it at any time. More than once we sought – and received – assurances that these were the facts. Then came the actual phone call with the company to set it all up. All of the sudden we learned there would be an additional – and heretofore unmentioned – $20 shipping charge for equipment. Okay, understandable. And then came the kicker. The quoted price was locked in for 24 months – but only if we purchased additional services from their home company within the first 12 months of the contract. Otherwise, the final 12 months of that agreed to 24 month contract would see a 50% price increase per month. And while he later insisted that we had previously covered and understood that, neither Karen nor I remember his having said anything whatsoever about that.
This is sort of like the car insurance company’s commercials that promise that they won’t raise your rates after your first accident – that is, if you’ve already purchased their additional coverage in advance (if I understand it correctly); or, to put it another way, if you’ve already been paying ahead of time for any potential first accident you may or may not ever even have to begin with!
It also seems somewhat similar to all of those medication commercials which show smiling, active, high spirited people who supposedly represent those who’ve taken those medications – medications the side effects of which are far more often than not, far more devastating, far-reaching, and in some cases even fatal, than even the worst of what they’ve been taken to correct.
In such an environment and society, and with all of the well-disguised, other-wise hidden, and often outright misrepresented prices, products, and presentations, is it any wonder whatsoever that people are so skeptical when we try to present to them even something as pure and unadulterated as the absolute truth of the two-thousand year old biblical gospel? Not really. It’s where we are at as a society. Everyone knows and expects that the french fries at the fast-food drive-through window are not going to look anything whatsoever like they do in their golden brown, “all points north in their packaging” commercials.
So, what is the answer to conducting effective evangelism in such a skeptical and “deceptive packaging” conditioned society? Simple. We must so transparently live the truth we will one day seek to convey to them, each and every day before them, each and every day prior to that – living the gospel in such a way daily – that others will actually ask us questions regarding why we are so different from everyone else around them. They must see and know from the lives we have been living before, around, and amongst them, that this Christianity as we profess it, is the real thing, “as it is written.” Truth, sincerity, integrity, and transparency; Christ-like love, obedience, trust, concern, and compassion, constantly and continually. It’s what the apostle Peter’s first epistle is all about! Re-read it and see! And then, let’s continually seek to live it and see what happens as well! And when we do occasionally make those inevitable mistakes, which we all eventually will, let us repent, rely on the Lord to help us get back up, and then continue to try once again to be the best and most biblical Christian we can possibly be! God bless!