The latest, most blatant one I noticed comes to us from the California Lottery and their campaign to introduce PowerBall to Californians.
As I was driving to work this morning, I heard an ad on the radio, playing the haunting riffs of "California Dreamin' ", and an announcer saying at the end of the ad, "believe in something bigger".
I think the ad campaign is ingenious. It taps into an already existent desire in all people to "believe in something bigger". Most people equate this kind of talk with transcendent, spiritual ideas like God and faith, but the California Lottery wants you to place your faith in a little..... red...... ball.
In my "spiritual warfare" view of life, I can't help but see it as a subtle and ingenious tactic of the Prince of This World to convince people that God isn't the source of help. Neither, in that case, are you able to help yourself, but that little red ball can solve all of your problems if you pursue it, and are lucky enough to have it land it your favor.
It's a sharp ad campaign. The little red ball can give you everything you need, it says.
Only thing is, it can't. It offers the promise of peace and solved problems, without actually delivering on it.
Jesus spoke to this in Matthew 6:
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today."
I'll stick with the real lottery, in which everyone who plays can win.