After a few years working in the marketing space I’ve come to pay close attentions to ad’s, commercials, billboards, and pretty much anything that is trying to sell or communicate something. The common thread in everything that I’ve come across from the print billboard on the highway to the 30 second add on Hulu is the motivational factor that informs and drives the message. What is it you ask?
After just a little bit of consideration you will find that the best commercials speak to the hidden desire that fuels the person. These desires include:
- The uncontrollable need to have or acquire something
- The desire to consume and fill, many times feeding the desire of food or hunger
- The pursuit of material possessions
- Being placed in a position where you don’t have to do anything and can live a luxurious life
- Getting a sense of justification
- Discontent of what you have and wanting what others can provide
- Whatever can life you up and make you seem better then everyone else
If you stopped right now and turned on your TV and really analyzed the commercial that is in front of you, you would see one or some combination of the previous motivations being played out in the commercial. For the perceptive reader going through the list, you would have probably recognized that the list can be simplified and categorized as:
The 7 Deadly Sins:
I was at a conference in California and was listening to a panel of leading technologists in the Christian space. One of the guys is a former executive of a large technology company. He said that in every marketing meeting and conversation of new product development the question that was asked goes something like this, “Does this product or campaign feed into one of the 7 deadly sins?”.
Ultimately, they found that the 7 deadly sins sell.
If we are not careful, we will find that the motivational factors behind our desires can also be categorically placed within one or some combination of the 7 deadly sins which is counterproductive and dangerous in every way to the believer.
A Theological Perspective of Desire:
Don’t get me wrong, having desires and motivations are great! In fact, it is a necessity for so much of what we do. However, without looking at the motivating factors we can find ourselves in a very dark and dangerous place. We don’t need to turn much further than the very opening pages of Genesis. We find in Genesis 3 the danger of desire being played out with an epic consequence for all of humanity. Specifically, in Genesis 3:4 we find that sneaky serpent exposing the idolatrous desire of Adam and Eve (the text says Adam was WITH her, so he is in every way guilty) to be “like God” and to “know good and evil” and to have their “eyes opened”. Sadly, when their eyes were opened, they came to see and realize the slavery that they subjected themselves to as a result of their disobedience and distrust in the goodness of God.
We’re No Better:
Don’t think we are any better. In fact, in many ways we have become much worse and more depraved as time has passed. We are able to creatively package ancient sin in new way’s which ultimately leads to our own slavery and demise. Take a look at Ephesians 2:3 and we find ourselves picking up where our first parents, Adam and Eve left off.
However, desire in itself is not bad. The object of our desire determines the positive or negative outcome.
How the Gospel Informs Our Desires:
As we understand the Gospel and it does a work in our lives we are left in awe and amazement at how a righteous and Holy God would intervene in our depravity, and rescue us from sin and death to place us at the right hand of the father (Col 1:13). This deep and intimate understanding of the Gospel begins to inform and mold us into the image of Christ. Our depraved self is destroyed and we are made new in Christ. We begin to think, live, love, perceive, and act in a way that is reflective of this Gospel that has definitively transformed us. Our motivations come into alignment with the desires of God, therefore, our desires are really God’s desires.
I think Martin Luther says it much better.
Therefore, when the object of our desire becomes Christ himself, the outcome of our desires become Gospel saturated and God honoring.
Further Reading – To dig deeper into this topic I would highly recommend Dr. John Pipers book, “Desiring God”.