Black Friday just isn’t what it used to be. They ruined all the fun by starting it, in some cases, back at the beginning of November. Not the way the pilgrims observed it. No more standing all night in line and then smashing and pushing to get in the door. Maybe I’ll take up roller derby. But speaking of getting in the door, consider this, somewhat more peaceful, analogy from Jesus:
9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:9-10)
The frenzy on Black Friday, I suspect, is largely driven by people who are desperate for life “to the full.” If I can score that toaster oven at a ridiculously low price, then I’ll be really living. Nothing wrong with a new toaster oven, but it is not the “gate” to a full life.
Life “to the full” comes only by having the life of the Holy Spirit in our souls. The Spirit is given to all who, as Jesus says, “enter through Me,” by faith. Those who find this full life, “come in and go out and find pasture.” Their lives are not locked up in church but are lived out in the world, led by Jesus, to “pastures” for sustenance and rest. Compare the peace of that image with the mindset of those who smash and push their way into Black Friday sales. You can see how the “thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” the full life he falsely promises.
Just when I began to lose hope, I heard people have had enough of Lady Gaga. Of course, soon enough, the thundering herd will head off over a different cliff. There is no accounting for how powerful and unpredictable groupthink is. Fads of pop culture are relatively harmless. More serious is what happens when people cluster around social and political ideas without thinking. How did Hitler get to be so powerful? How did Rob Ford get elected? How does extreme political correctness get imposed? Groupthink about how to make money gave us the tech bubble and the housing crash. People who broke away from the pack and followed their own ideas did better during those tough days.
As a rule of thumb, when everybody agrees about something, watch out! Think to yourself, “Can all those people really be right?” Jesus said:
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14
Jesus was talking about how to find life, real life. He said, when it comes to life, the thundering herd has it wrong. It’s not happiness or money or a better job and house. It’s not thrills or music or fame or intoxication or even great achievement in your career. Those paths are packed hard with countless footprints of those who thought they would find life and were disappointed. Those gates resemble the bent and trampled doors of a city Walmart on Black Friday. But the herd is wrong.
So how do we find the “narrow gate?” Don’t get the wrong idea: the “narrow gate” is not for the “narrow minded.” Narrow mindedness is another form of groupthink. That herd is wrong, too. The narrow gate Jesus referred to “leads to life” – abundant, full, rich and satisfying life. And He showed us how to find it:
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. (John 10:9)