About a week ago I did something stupid in my facebook account (I don't want to get into it, but it involves trying to figure out something about that darn animated dog, "Pokey"), and unleashed an endless stream of spam into one of my email accounts. This could be called a minor annoyance, in some ways: somewhere along the line of getting a lot of junk mail every day. At least with this spam, there isn't any physical clutter in my house.
However, every time I see a new list of 10 or 20 or 30 spam-mails, I'm reminded of my dumb mistake.
At first, I checked off each one separately, before I deleted it. Then I discovered a little button that would automatically delete all spam for me (although I do get the ominous warning "Are you sure you want to delete all these messages?" right before I hit the button). I don't take the time to read the spam (there are too many for that), but sometimes I have caught a glimpse of the first few words, and I've noticed that sometimes they are desperate for me to respond, i.e., "We have been trying to contact you for several days!" or "This is the last time we are going to contact you!"
They don't think they are "spam." They think they are incredible offers that I would be foolish to pass up. They even (sometimes) know my name, which you might think would soften me a little. But it doesn't.
Free laptops, surveys I can take, degree programs, mortgage deals: I delete them all. I recognize them as "too good to be true." Or, as theologians might say, "another gospel."
I wish it was always so easy, and simple to delete the false messages in life, and simply a messy inconvenience as it is with "spam." But not all the sirens out there are so easy to resist. And how is it that we discern the true from the false, what is real from what is leading us astray? For me, the words of the absolution, "In the name of Jesus, your sins are forgiven," are a great gift that sets me free. To someone else, those words might sound just like spam. Too good to be true.
The gospel, truly lived, is an even more incredible offer than a free laptop or a mortgage deal. But maybe that's the rub: truly lived. As I hit "delete" on the spam I can recognize, I renew efforts to speak and write words which are not spam.
It's not so easy.