Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Finding Jesus with your keys

If you grew up with a Christian mommy, then you probably heard her praying for her keys a few times.

The idea is not that keys are so spiritually relevant but rather that Christ can be found even in the mundane things, like lost keys.

For my part, my mom has a habit of praying for someone whenever she calls someone by the wrong name. She claims that God put that person on her heart for a reason. Though you might say that she is overspiritualizing it or coming perilously close to making God a kind of cosmic Freud, the truth is that my mom prays for a lot of people because of this. Whether or not God actually caused the slip, I know that He is pleased with her prayers.

I am not spiritual enough to believe that God is actually the cause of my absent-mindedness but I have noticed some Jehova-riffic patterns in some social/cultural/philosophical practices. I have noticed several times that I will be in a conversation about civil rights, politics, marketing, communication, agriculture, pop-culture, or even exercise and I will be blasted with an involuntary, "Woah, that's God!"

I suspect that this is because God is, in fact, everywhere.
"For His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made."
Romans 1:20
Just for giggles, let me share the most recent one. You can quote the bible's history books to me if you'd like, but I happen to believe that God likes democracy. Sure, He wants to be the one guiding our decisions, but I think if God wanted a theocracy then he'd have made different decisions when he was writing the human genome and we'd still be be running around starkers in the garden. *sigh*

I was talking to someone recently about how social media has been changing the marketing game over the past 10 years or so, shifting power from the Brand to the Consumer. Granted, the consumer has always had the power to choose which products to support, but it is a drop in the bucket of influence. It can be disheartening to realize that MegaCorp X really doesn't have to care about your opinion of their widget (oh, blast those widgets!) because they have 100,000 other customers who are doing just fine, thank you. Well the unfathomably networked miracle of the Web along with the ability to generate your own "content" (articles, editorials, photos, videos, etc) means you can now have an opinion about a product and, potentially, broadcast it to a billion plus people with relatively few resources. All of a sudden MegaCorp X has to worry about a few very vocal, well networked, dissatisfied customers destroying their carefully constructed brand image. A clever, catchy dig at your company can like a virus, infect the entire virtual world which is, arguable, indistinguishable from the "real" world.

On a related topic, I was reading up on a marketing concept called the "long tail." If you are ignorant like me, this basically describes the appearance of a certain kind of probability distribution graph.

That is, the majority of an activity (sales, commenting, linking) exists within a 20% range of the population (the leftmost area on the graph), these are your "power players." However another property of this kind of distribution is that more than half of a particular activity actually does exist in the remaining 80% (the rightmost portion of the graph). So there are those who say that, rather than focus merely on your "power players," there is a huge (more than 50%) benefit to focusing on the "little guys."

Cool, but how is this like "thank-you God for finding my keys?" Well omnipotent and eternal as He is, God is an intensely personal guy. Consider this exchange between Jesus and His disciples:
Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”
Luke 9:18-20
God isn't the type of guy to have a carefully crafted, glossy, brand image that he prints on leaflets or broadcasts from pulpits.  He is also not only concerned with spiritual power players, those giants who write books and worship songs or stand up at the front on Sunday. He meets up with unique, inconsequential, little you and says "who do you say I am?"

Your opinions, actions, and understanding of God's nature and what He is doing in the world have the power both to alter the "brand image" of God and effect how He works in the world. But, more importantly, you have value both to God Himself and His purposes.

I think this is pretty cool, even if I don't thank God enough for helping me find my keys.

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