If you were an advertiser, what is the number one factor you would use to get people to buy your product? The answer, of course, is fear and insecurity. Think about that for a moment. A company that wants to make a profit does so by making you feel unsure about yourself. Don’t believe it?

Think about the smoking or beer advertisements of the 80’s. The vast majority seemed to suggest that people who smoke or drink a particular brand would be strong and sexy, living easy lives whose chief concern is having fun. Male models would hook up with female models, and CLEARLY the reason they were doing so was because of cold beer and tobacco in a paper wrapping.

Or you could consider my absolute LEAST favorite line in advertising history. The commercial starts off by highlighting some really interesting features that their new car has. These positive messages are followed up by this little gem. “It’s not more than you need; just more than you’re used to.” WHAT? You’re telling me that all the other cars ever invented can’t meet my real NEEDS? This is sheer idiocy, of course… if there were NEEDS that cars aren’t addressing but could, they would have been solved long ago. Why buy a car if there are still NEEDS that it doesn’t meet? This commercial is basically playing into your fear that your car isn’t good enough, or that you’ll be missing out if you don’t have these wonderful features.

It’s true with the many commercials that espouse, “uniqueness,” too. They tell you that you are becoming just like everyone else in the wide world, another ant in a giant army of boring people… unless you buy a VW Bug, of course!

Everyone struggles with this in different areas. For myself, I have a nasty fear of being inconsequential, or seen as dumb and irrelevant. So, what do I do? I study theology and politics. I practice public speaking. I copy the patterns of important figures of the past. I even cultivate an attitude and lifestyle designed to highlight my intelligence and consequence to others. I want to MATTER, and my fears that I won’t influence everything I do. If you ever want to see me sweat, try cleaning my room… my deep fears that people will think of me as a dumb child when they see how messy I am come to the forefront in no time flat.

Where am I going with this? It seems to me that the great antidote to these struggles, the only way to resist the constant attempts our world makes to influence our behavior… is to be secure. To not be afraid. To be content.

That answer is fairly obvious. How do we actually GET contentment, though? Not surprisingly for a Ben Blog, the answer is found in the Bible.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
-Philippians 4:4-7

Do you see it? The Bible here presents two wonderful antidotes to the problems of fear and insecurity. First, knowing God gives an outlet for our frustrations. We can pray to him, presenting our requests with the knowledge that he hears and knows what is best for us. Second, God’s peace will GUARD our hearts and minds. What do you think he’s guarding us from? Why, being anxious.

Our world presents a continuous assault on our self-confidence, a perpetual drive to scare us into buying bigger, better, and more impressive. We spend millions on self-help books, tighter clothing, and huge cars with low gas mileage, all because we’re afraid that if we don’t we’ll be less important. In God’s eyes, though, nothing could BE less important.

If there’s a fear we ought to have, it’s being inconsequential and useless to GOD. If He can’t use us to glorify himself and further his kingdom, we have a real problem. That should motivate us to seek HIS definition of riches… the riches of a humble heart, a loving attitude, and a willingness to serve. Those are the things that will bring about the kind of relevance and joy that we all seek.

Hopefully I’ve given you something to chew on. It’s an area I struggle with, too… but as long as I’m following God, I intend to keep struggling. Relevance in His eyes is worth it.

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