When I was introduced to Jesus it was compelling that the gift of reconciliation and a forever-clean slate was free of charge. We still bought music on physical formats back then. When we were introduced to MP3s our consciences whispered the truth it was stealing abetted by Napster. If something was valued the asking cost deserved to be met or at least haggled.
Things are different now. Free is the expectation. At least digitally, which is becoming the primary medium for communicating ideas. Email correspondence is infinitely cheaper than postage. Publishing this thought for distribution to multiple recipients cost me next-to-nothing.
The church has no shortage of pastors who want to write books. Many of these books read the same. The authors labored to contextualize the timeless message but they sound the same. The experience is dull like these three sentences which end the same. Same.
An attempt to share the great news has become an echoing of spiritual platitudes quoting C.S. Lewis and Tim Keller. Attentive ears filter out the white noise of tired repetition. I can’t speak for the interpretation of the uninitiated.
The market is flooded with these books. If you wait long enough a Retweet will find its way in front of your eyes. This Retweet will contain a link to download one of these same books at no cost. The cost of the download is congruent with the free-gift of Jesus. But the substance…
Some software is free to use because your data is the product that is being sold. Others are determined to defer monetization in pursuit of growth. Both offer the courtesy of not confronting you with counting the cost.
There’s no differentiation between the cost of a digital book expounding Jesus’ teaching and apps that facilitate casual sex. Which makes sense because if casual sex cost money it would become prosecutable prostitution. When everything is free everything is equally costly. The relative values cannot be weighed because the costs are not confronting us.
The premise of a free-gift that requires great attention to investigate is no longer compelling to me. I’m glad I heard it what I did. If it met me now I’m not sure that my attention span would endure it.
We cannot charge for the story about Jesus. But it’s freeness carries baggage in a culture where cost-free expectations are often followed by low-quality experiences.