Saturday, January 3, 2009

Change My Tag!

I got back from Mid-Winter Youth Retreat this afternoon.

Yesterday afternoon, I got a call from Sis.Redmond, telling me that both of her parents were in the hospital, and that she needed me to fill in as the chaperon for the girls going. This was not a big deal, as the girls are well-behaved, and I'm pretty good friends with all three of them.

I missed a lot of the service last night, because Lori wasn't feeling great and I was afraid that she would get sick. From what I've heard, the service was excellent, and what I heard was really good.

We had fun at the University of Akron Recreation and Wellness Center for the "after-party". (Note: Previous post was about pizza. It was late/early and there was too much Mt.Dew in my system to be coherent. Also, I like to be vague.) We didn't get to bed until late/early. About 3 AM.

None of that stuff will stick with me.

Bro. Tim Rutledge spoke this morning. I had heard him before, at youth camp, and knew that he was an excellent speaker. What he taught this morning blew me away.

I looked up this story that he told us today, and unfortunately I couldn't find it. The story was about a jewelry store break-in. Nothing was stolen. Some people broke into this store and all that they did was switch the prices on the jewelry. They put the prices for the genuine, expensive jewelry on the fake, imitation jewelry, and the prices for the imitations on the genuine jewelry. They did such a great job of this "heist" that the store went on with business as usual for half of the day before noticing that anything was amiss. Because of this, things of great value were bought quite cheaply and looked at as commonplace and insignificant, and outrageous prices were paid for things that, in the end, had no real worth or value of any kind.

In this situation, the price meant nothing. If you go into a store, Bro.Rutledge said, you can ask any salesperson, "How much does this item cost?", and the answer will come quickly from the salesman, "$29.99", usually after a quick glance at the tag or a price check. You can then ask the salesperson, "How much is this item worth?", and the salesperson will tell you, once again, "$29.99".

The worth of something is not determined by its price. Only the buyer can determine the true worth of something. For example, I went out and spent forty dollars on my Twilight series, but their are those who think that it is ridiculous and a waste of time and wouldn't pay a dime for all four of the books.  The cost is worth it to me. It's not worth it to some of my friends. The worth of the jewelry in that store was much greater than the price tag said, as well.

The world today is much like that jewelry store. Things that, at one time, were worth a great deal are worth nothing at all, even looked down upon in our society. Honesty, character, and sexual purity are cast aside and viewed as old-fashioned and outdated. Getting ahead, no matter the cost, is looked at as valuable, no matter who it hurts in the process. But those things are only worth as much as people are willing to pay for them. And as soon as the transaction is made, the buyer is free to do as he wishes with the item he has bought for the price on the tag. At the point of transaction, it is no longer the right of anyone else to decide to worth of that item, because the buyer has paid in full.

As Christians, we have been bought with a price- 3 nails and a crown of thorns. At the point of this transaction, the world lost all rights to place its worth or value on us. It does not matter what you have been through, what your past is, how much you've sinned, if you grew up and have a solid Christian background or if you walked in off of the street, a drug addict and an alcoholic. No matter what your background, you have been bought with that price.

II Corinthians 5:20 says, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God". An ambassador can be defined as the highest representative of an individual or origin. Therefore, no matter what your background is, God paid for you in full, and has made you a representative of him. Ambassadors hold diplomatic immunity in the country to which they are traveling. They are not bound by the laws or the customs of the area. Their job is to represent and to act like an individual in that country should act. Through being an ambassador, we are not bound by the expectations of the world- the swapped price tags. We have a diplomatic immunity of sorts, and are free to represent our God. This doesn't mean that we have to go shoving religion down peoples throats. That is not what this means, at all. What it means is that you do not have to conform to and be what the world says you are. If the world says that you are a drug addict, a nobody, a loser, it doesn't have to be that way. They didn't buy you. They don't get to decide your value.

In Vietnam, after a battle, the medics would disperse to assess those wounded in the battle. There were three basic tags placed on an individual. The first signified that the person required immediate attention and needed to be transported as soon as possible. The second said that the person was injured, but could wait a while to be transported and cared for; the others should go first. The last sent a message to the medics saying, "Don't bother. This person will not make it, anyway." One soldier after a battle severed a major artery and was lying on the battlefield, bleeding. He was still conscious,  however, when a medic came by, assessed him, and marked him with the third tag. The soldier understood what this meant and became hysterical, refusing to let go of the medic. "Change my tag!" was his cry, over and over again, "I won't let you go until you change my tag!". Just to get the soldier to shut his mouth, the medic changed his tag to the first, requiring immediate attention, and through sheer will-power, the soldier survived.

The picture above is my tag. I'm supposed to wear it for the next one or two weeks. The world has committed a crime, much like that which occurred in the jewelry store, placing values on things that they have no business placing values on. I have been given a price and my worth has been determined. Nothing that the world says can  change the worth that God sees in anyone, and by looking at the tag, it reminds me of what my actual worth is. 

Nothing anyone else says matters. I have been bought with a price, and my value has been set.

And they aren't the one who set it.

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