Hard To Get

I remember seeing a news program that was reporting on infant mortality in a certain African nation.  The focus of this segment was on an organization that was taking measures to prevent the death of newborns in the poorest of villages by handing out “birthing packets”.  These birthing packets contained little more than a plastic sheet and a sterile knife, but the villages where these packets were handed out saw a massive decrease in infant mortality.  Interestingly enough, in the villages where the packets were SOLD, as opposed to given away, the number of infant deaths decreased significantly further.  So in areas where they made it just a little more difficult to receive help, the people actually received greater benefit from the birthing packet.

The psychology behind this is that when something is too easy to get, it often possesses little value to the receiver and is more easily misplaced or overlooked. When people had something invested in the packets, their children were more likely to live.  There was nothing actually wrong with the free packets, it’s just that they may have been too easy to get.

Similarly, the same psychology comes in to play when you are talking about information. Do you ever think we can devalue a message by making it too easy, too obvious, or oversimplified?  In the same way that the birthing packets that were easy to “get” had less of an effect on the community, could a message that is too easy to “get” also lack influence?  Do you think that sometimes it helps a message if people have to invest a bit of thought into it?

Personally, I believe it’s for this very reason that Paul called the gospel a “mystery”.  If this is true, then I want to know why we seem to be so afraid of any kind of mystery in our modern faith? Why do we feel like we always have to have the answers?

Jesus had a fascinating mystery about him.  Mathew said he always delivered his message in the fashion of a story (Matt 13:34).  He often said things that even his own disciples didn’t understand. In fact, because of one such message in John 6 he lost many of his followers including some of his innermost circle.  The interesting thing is that they didn’t leave because they disagreed with him. They left because they didn’t understand.  And even more interesting is the fact that Jesus knew they misunderstood and never attempted to explain.  Jesus obviously knew what he was doing.  His 3-year campaign has probably had greater affect on mankind than any other event in history.

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12 comments
  1. Absolutely."we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages" 1Cor 2v7The truth of God is wisdom that is so beyond this earth that for it to be too easily grasped it would not be of God. The kind of wisdom that was crafted in the hands of God before the earth was formed can only be shrouded in mystery and creativity, and requires us to seek it out with a sense of awe…

  2. Jared said:

    Last paragraph: true, but the ministries of Peter, Paul, and the other apostles were ministries of clear teaching and explanation of Christ's ministry of salvation etc. Not that we shouldn't embrace mystery…those guys said all sorts of hard things that people still walk away from.Good food for thought. As usual.

  3. Wow, so true. Thanks for the encouragement.

  4. benward said:

    That’s a great thought. Have you heard Rich Mullins tune, “Hard to Get”? (Rich’s Demo) (Full Version) It captures, I think, the mystery you’re speaking of in Jesus.

  5. Cate said:

    So thought provoking. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Jason said:

    I have worked in a discipleship program for a while now and those who have come for free or a discount do poorly but the ones that cost them something did the best! Jesus will always make it cost us something! How true is this blog!!!

  7. David said:

    It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. (Proverbs 25:2)I concur.

  8. David beat me to it, I was reading this thinking about that scripture as well… Bill Johnson has some great revelation on it. I think there are some things God hides for us just for the reason you noted – that we would fully cherish it once we have "searched it out." Good word man!

  9. Jared,Remember, Paul and the others were writing to people who were inside a religious organization. They already had context and were already interested in what they had to say. I'm not talking more about church people. I'm talking about the millions who aren't interested in Jesus because of the remarkably poor job we've done communicating to them. We can be "clear as a bell" but it doesn't matter if no one is listening.

  10. fritzvd said:

    Wow, this is interesting. At the moment I am reading this it serves as a break from my paper on philosophy, environment and christianity. The paper will probably conflict with the views of my humanist professor.The thing I am proposing is bringing back awe and wonder in looking at nature as a way to preserve. We can revel at the creation, because of the Creator.It is exactly because we have lost the mystery about nature because we try to define and explain it, that we have lost the love for it.Awesome, I think God is starting a mysterious movement 😉

  11. Interesting indeed. However, there is competing research. In studies on blood donation, comparing places where giving blood was voluntary and uncompensated as opposed to those where remuneration was provided, far fewer people responded when they'd be given money for donating blood. Paying for something so vital seemed to repulse would-be volunteers.

  12. Steohen, This is not competing research at all. These are two entirely different things. Actually they’re almost opposite situations. In one case a group of people are receiving something and the ones who were required to invest in order to receive tended to value it more and because of it received a greater benefit. In your scenario a group of people are giving something and are discovered more likely to give when they are not compensated. The physiology behind your situation is that people would prefer to invest their own time and resources to do something good rather than be compensated for it. They get more out of it when they have something invested. Just like the people in my situation. So, if anything, this research would actually validate my point not compete with it.

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