Perks versus Blessing
When the Dominant Culture (D.C.) comes calling, there are perks involved. Earlier on we defined the D.C. as “the group that wields most power in that society.” Just as a kingdom without subjects is without power, the D.C. must build a tribe to exercise its influence. And what attracts a tribe? Perks; perks attract many to yield to the D.C.’s mandate. How is that different from the blessing God offers His followers?
Ever heard of Monsanto? The genetically engineered (GE) seed company illustrates the D.C. method of perk usage. It attracts small farmers by offering perks to them, at first. It says they will increase their crop yield by using their seed. It promises the crops will be resistant to herbicides, which it also sells. It guarantees their farms will be flowing with milk and honey. At first. Later on, though, after the farmers have bought into the GE supply, Monsanto restricts them from saving seed produced by their crops for the next year’s planting. Farmers must buy new expensive seed from the conglomerate. Communities are encouraged to inform on their neighbours if they see any breach of the seed patent agreement. The perks have degraded into threats.
Some things never change. The Assyrian king made promises to the people sitting on the walls of Jerusalem 2500 years ago. He promised them perks. He said, ”I will give you two thousand horses, … grain and new wine, … bread and vineyards, …olive trees and honey” (II Kings 18:23,31,32). Only a fool would reject perks like those, right? No mention was made of having to give up their city, their country, their culture and their God. What was their response?
We are told that Hezekiah went up to the temple of the LORD, spread out his concerns before God and prayed, “O LORD, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God.” Hezekiah credits God with unrivaled power and glory and entreats Him to notice something. He sees the perks, and every other attempt of the besiegers to entice Jerusalem’s submission, as a direct insult to the LORD God. Hezekiah’s heart is not turned by the temptation of those perks because he would rather have blessing.
What is blessing? How is it different from perks? The end of Hezekiah’s prayer helps us understand.
“Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God.” Blessing is the result of a worldview that admits God’s sovereignty. When an individual embraces the lordship of God in his or her life there is blessing. There is peace and fulfillment. There is unexpected joy. There is love. There is nothing D.C. about God. He does not offer perks then snatch them away when he has secured power over people. He promises He will transform our minds, our hearts, and our spirits in the truest sense. It’s a whole new life He gives. That’s not a perk. It’s a blessing, and He is faithful to do it.
Winding up this series on ‘The D.C., God, and You” leaves us with a challenge. We cannot escape the Dominant Culture around us. It is everywhere. It infiltrates our homes, our leisure, our view of self and others, our ideas about the purpose of life. But it is not a foregone conclusion that we must submit to it. Hezekiah didn’t. Christ followers over the past two millennia haven’t, and we don’t have to either. But we mustn’t leave a vacuum in our allegiance. The D.C. will take advantage of the breaches in our wall; it has a myriad of siege-works at the ready. We need to come daily before God reminding Him and ourselves of our loyalty to Him. We need to live and breathe and pray to God. The blessing awaits.
(Photo Credit: Alex Proimos; Wikimedia Commons)