It's Christmas season and you dread the crowded malls. What do you do? Place your order on Amazon's website, wait 30 minutes, and go outside. A drone will have delivered your package to your doorstep.
Founder Jeff Bezos showed his "octocopters" to CBS's 60 Minutes last Sunday. The company plans to begin service as soon as the FAA allows such flights, perhaps in 2015. The current unmanned drones have a range of 10 miles and can deliver products under five pounds (nearly 90 percent of everything Amazon sells).
Just when you think the holidays can't become more commercialized, someone finds a new way to make money out of Christmas. But the secularization of our society could be worse—much worse. Last Thursday, did you take time to thank God for his blessings? If you lived in North Korea, such an act would have been perilously seditious.
Each home in that oppressed country is required to display prominently a portrait of the nation's deceased founder. Before every meal, every North Korean is required to turn to this picture and pray, "Thank you, Father Kim Il Sung, for this food." Every day in North Korea is thanksgiving, but in its most idolatrous, blasphemous form. Christians there face the same dilemma as those in the Roman Empire—whether to worship Caesar or Christ.
Perhaps you hugged your family outside your front door when they arrived on Thanksgiving Day. In Saudi Arabia,two men who offered "free hugs" were arrested and charged with offending public order. Or perhaps you kissed someone in public. In Morocco, two teenagers who kissed outside their school have been arrested for "violating public decency" and could be imprisoned for two years.
The creeping commercialism of our culture is lamentable, with Black Friday sales beginning on Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday extending to Cyber Everyday. But I'm grateful to live in a nation founded on the conviction that all people have the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." And I'm convicted that God wants us to "seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf" (Jeremiah 29:7).
So, rather than being frustrated with the secularism of the season, let's look for ways to promote the "welfare" (shalom in Hebrew, meaning "tranquility and prosperity") of those we meet today. And let's pray to the Lord on their behalf, asking God's Spirit to reveal his Son to them through us.
When the Spirit controls and empowers us, his "fruit" is obvious to all: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). If millions of Christians around the world demonstrated such counter-cultural traits this holiday season, would the world ever be the same?
Publication date: December 3, 2013