Tuesday, September 20, 2011

False Advertising

A few weeks ago I was in a grocery store and saw a harried mom with her out of control kids. I have four kids, I have learned to not assume things based on the moments of behavior I happen to witness. I don't know if the children are ill, or have unseen disabilities, or are simply having a bad day.  I've been there, done that, and know that reproachful looks and not-so-veiled comments really don't help.  I try to offer an understanding smile and not stare.
But this... this was different.  The kids were running CRAZY, the mom was yelling, I mean YELLING at them, and in the few short encounters I witnessed, she gave at least 4 empty threats.  The worst part?  the whole family was wearing matching T-shirts that proclaimed "I love my church" on the front and had a religious message on the back. Ugh. Poor mom, poor kids, poor church!

My pastor recently shared that he was driving in heavy traffic (the only kind we have around here) and a fellow driver grew rather irritated with him and shared those feelings via various gestures. Only thing, the car was plastered with stickers for one of the very large local churches. Again, ouch, slightly embarrassing.

Today I went to Walmart with the intention of using their price match policy to score a great deal on some Christmas gifts. While I was in the store shopping, I heard over the store sound system, in between the canned music, advertisements for Walmart, including those touting the "easy price match policy, available at every register."  Guess what? I got to the register and they refused to honor their own policy.  Asking management to intervene did not resolve the issue and I ended up leaving without making a single purchase. I have to be honest, it leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. I'm not a fan of this particular mass merchandiser anyway, but I made a special trip specifically because of their price-match policy.

My husband got a postcard in the mail promising him that he had won a "free" Bahama Vacation for 2, simply call this number.  It went so far to assure him that it was not a land-sale or time-share deal.  

I think we all know better than to believe the post card; I threw it away without even calling.  I'm sure they somehow skirt the legal boundaries of false advertisement, but I didn't even bother to find out what all the clauses were.
 However, what about the other examples?  Should we expect different  behavior from people who advertise that they are Christians?  I certainly expected the store in my example to follow their own printed policy, but they didn't.  

As for the mom in the store and the driver in the car... I know that in stressful times we all cling to that saying, "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven," (although, try as I might, I have never been able to find what scripture that is supposed to be based on...)  but really, shouldn't we try to live up to our advertising? 

I claim to be a Christian, I am open with this, as I believe we are supposed to be.  What I need to examine is whether or not my life and my reactions and my relationships are living up to my advertisement.
How sobering to know that my children's ideas of what a Christian family looks like is based on how I behave towards them.
For the people I interact with, even in passing, is my "written policy" one thing but my follow-through something else?
Am I leaving people disillusioned?  do they have a bad taste in their mouth about Christians when they have walked away from me?

I ended up taking my coupons and my competitor's advertisement to a different store (Target) and getting my extreme deal. They didn't even hiccup at doing the price-match. I know it was not convenient for them, and they didn't make any money, but they followed their advertised policy.  I left happy and with the decision to frequent their establishment again and to tell others about it.
I want to do that. I want to live up to my Christian "advertising" even when it's not convenient.
I want people to walk away from me wanting to know more, wanting to find out more about my Christianity.
I want my life to be good advertising for the Lord.

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