(Originally posted in March 2012. Enjoy!)
It’s a form of fraud. A store offers a great item at a great price, but when you show up, that product is gone and you’re shown something “just as good” but at a higher price.
If you recognize the scam, you turn on your heels and leave empty handed.
There’s a spiritual version of bait and switch, too. And most people buy it hook, line, and sinker.
Here’s how it works:
You’re trying to change a longstanding habit and realize you need a higher power in order to do it. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection reveal He is more than willing to give Himself to you.
Jesus giving Himself to you? That’s a great deal! There’s the bait. (And in this case, it’s not a scam, He’s really offering.)
And here comes the switch.
Someone replaces the original offer: You bring your old destructive habits, Jesus gives you Himself.
With this one: You bring your old destructive habits, you get a list of godly things to do.
Pray, memorize Scripture, tithe, go to church, fast, serve, attend recovery groups, get accountability, read this book, listen to that sermon series, have more faith.
There is nothing wrong with these. (In fact, I try to practice them all.) But recognize this: They are not God.
If you’re going to find freedom from something you’re habitually doing, it’s not going to come primarily by something you do.
Don’t fall for the scam.
Instead, look Jesus in the face and say “Yes” to the deal He’s offering. As many times as you need to. When you think you deserve Him most and especially when you deserve Him least. He’s here, giving Himself to you.
I’d love to hear from you! What helps you recognize and avoid the bait and switch? What helps you say yes to God? Leave a comment below.
I sing praise songs that me remind me that no matter what I believe Jesus loves me and I read scriptures that tell me that. I am confused because if I do not turn to the things you said I should not tell others to do I find no peace.
Gail, thank you.
To clarify, I didn’t say we shouldn’t encourage others (or ourselves) to practice spiritual disciplines like those mentioned in my post. They can be a meaningful part of how we make space in our lives for Jesus. But we can make the mistake of believing Jesus’ power, peace, healing, love, etc. are in the disciplines, rather than given through the disciplines.
Maybe this illustration will help: Right now, I’m enjoying a cup of coffee. I love the aroma coming from the cup, the warmth of the cup as I hold it in my hands, and the taste in my mouth when I hold the cup to my lips. I use the cup because it’s harder for me to experience all of this without it. But the cup is not the point. The coffee is. Because I enjoy coffee, I reach for the best cup (I prefer a good pottery mug) I can find, and of course I tell others to use one too. But what I really want is not a mug, and what I really want to share with them is not a mug. It’s good coffee.
Not a perfect illustration, but maybe it helps?
You’re right, it can get confusing. I think it’s one of the reasons this form of “bait and switch” is so easy to slip into.
Thanks for sharing again..
All of Jesus’s messages were connected to
His invitation to come to Him. After you’ve
been in a fellowship for many years, you can
loose sharp discernment if you’re truly coming
in fresh surrender to Him or are just depending
on the church support lifelines to meet your
needs. I’ve learn through trial & error that
my greatest need is Him, no matter what the
storms of life or winds of adversity bring my
May we not be taken, bait, hook and sinker by
another fish story. He is all we need but we really
never come to know that until He’s all we
His peace be upon you