I had a regular dental hygiene appointment last week. Since finally making flossing a habit, my tooth health has improved greatly. However when the dentist does his exam near the end of the appointment, he always asked if I’d like to do something about my discolored front tooth.
That tooth is a little out of alignment and has a gray pall at its base. I didn’t do braces when I was young and I don’t recall the reason for the tooth’s grayness but I have no interest in an expensive procedure to correct either situation. As far as I’m concerned, my teeth do what they are supposed to do and are healthy. How they look doesn’t matter as much to me.
I blame dental advertising for why all of a sudden having nice, white, straight teeth is such a big deal these days. Dental ads claim that people with dazzling smiles are favored over people whose smiles are not so dazzling.
We live in a hyper-connected age that incessantly bombards us with messaging that was unimagined not too long ago. Ever message offers its own measuring bar – the importance of fitness, coloring our gray, driving a certain kind of truck, having the latest smartphone the day of its release, assurance that our investment portfolio is building wealth at exactly the right pace for our future plans, and on and on and on….
Here’s a description of what people become when they put too much stock in the wrong kinds of messages. “They (become) lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, … unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” Some will claim to be religious but then not act very religious behind the scenes.
This wasn’t written in 2015 but in 67 A.D. by the apostle Paul to his protege Timothy. Paul was looking ahead to how people would be during the “terrible times” of the “last days.” I think we may now be there.
Here is Paul’s admonition to Timothy about people like that: Stay away from them!
But what if messages advocating this manner and lifestyle are everywhere? Like today? Paul’s answer is for Timothy to do what he has already done.
“You, however, know…” Paul wrote to Timothy. What did Timothy know?
What Timothy knew was the conduct and life of his mentor, Paul He knew about Paul’s “teaching, way of life, purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings … the persecutions (Paul) endured… (that) the Lord rescued (him) from.”
Timothy knew because he was walking alongside Paul as all that was going on. Timothy was a companion and often an eyewitness of Paul enduring and persevering through hardships.
The best way to recognize a counterfeit is to study the real thing. This is Paul’s advice too. “ while impostors will go from bad to worse, …. continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it.”
The best influencers are people we know personally. Influence occurs best through direct connection.
Believers together “get” what believers alone are at risk of missing. Not only is there safety in numbers but also wisdom.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20, ESV)
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10: 24-25, ESV)
If you feel at risk of sliding into the culture connectivity is bringing, try shutting it down and heading to church or arranging an outing with a fellow believer.
Then dial up on more of that.
Image source site: http://www.metaphysicalrevelations.com/powerofsuggestion.html