Sensational is what we want. Transformational is what we need.

Sensational grabs our attention. Transformational often comes without glitter.

In one of my favorite movie scenes (from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade), Indiana Jones is vying with the scoundrel, Donovan, as they compete to choose the Holy Grail—the cup of Christ—from among a dazzlingly display of vessels. The ancient knight cautions them to “Choose wisely.” Caught up in the dazzle of obvious glory, Donovan drinks from the goblet of gold, which quickly leads to his untimely and unpleasant demise. He chooses poorly, failing to recognize the humble nature of Christ. Indie, of course, chooses wisely and the result is healing and life for his dying father.

Click this link to watch the movie clip:

Donovan, in his blindness, was drawn to the sensational, entirely missing the heart of God. And while The Last Crusade is nothing more than a fictional creation, people continue to be people. In looking for life, we opt for the sensational, often missing the person of Christ and facilitating the power of death.

photo credit: rottnapples via photopin cc
photo credit: rottnapples via photopin cc

During my years of college ministry, my coworkers and I served as “campus missionaries”, essentially meaning that we were each responsible for raising our own salary. The ministry was incredibly fruitful but the support raising process created extreme difficulty for most of us—especially those with families.

We had one particular campus ministry leader who was quite personable and had no problem keeping his support account full. Sadly, we later discovered that his life was a bold-faced lie and the revelation of his hypocrisy brought considerable pain to everyone involved. At the same time, faithful—and effective—campus ministers who carried less favorable public personas always seemed to struggle financially, eventually leaving to pursue more secure employment in order to meet family needs.

Whether we refer to following Christian speakers, giving to ministries, or even something as simple as deciding which online article to read, sensational images, words, and titles vie for our attention. When lacking in substance, however, they never deliver what they promise.

photo credit: OliBac via photopin cc
photo credit: OliBac via photopin cc

Isn’t it like God to package treasure in common packages? Jesus had no stately form (Isaiah 53:2) and the Apostle Paul considered himself to be an unskilled speaker (2 Corinthians 11:6). And, yet, how many billions of lives have been transformed by their less than glamorous efforts?

The day will come when the difference between the sensational and the transformational becomes evident to everyone. Sadly, the coming of that day will also mean that the opportunity for change has passed.

God has hidden eternal riches among the tens of thousands of “holy grails” constantly vying for our attention. The transformational life of God is so close that we can almost reach out and touch it.

Like the old knight said, “Choose wisely.”