Have you ever found yourself watching what you thought was an interesting TV show just to find out later that it was really a commercial? Some people call them “infomercials” – others just call them “annoying.” Either way, it’s easy to get caught up in them. Maybe it’s because they make their product seem almost too good to be true, presenting it as being something other than it is – and they’re usually very good at it.
John the Baptist, on the other hand, did just the opposite. “The people were filled with expectation.” They were hoping that John might be the Christ. If John had been looking for “market share” this would have been the perfect opportunity for him to present himself as something other than what he was. But that’s not what John did. Instead, John directed the people to Jesus, that one “the thongs of [whose] sandals” John was not worthy to loosen.
A young couple walked into the real estate office, hoping to find the perfect house. They had looked at their income and expenses and figured out how much of a mortgage they could handle. They knew what style of house they wanted. But when the real estate agent showed them houses in their price range the houses seemed small and unattractive. Then the agent suggested they look at some homes that were “just a little bit” more expensive than they could afford. And these houses looked much better. What they didn’t realize, of course, was that the agent had never intended to sell them a cheaper home. The agent was looking, not at their needs, but at her commission. Like those infomercials, what had seemed too good to be true turned out to be exactly that.
John presented himself just as he was. How do we present ourselves? In business, do we present our product or service honestly, perhaps even suggesting something less expensive if we feel it might be more appropriate for our customer? Or, like those annoying infomercials, do we promote a product – or perhaps even ourselves – as being almost too good to be true?
Van Benthem is a longtime pastoral minister in the diocese.