Recently I heard about the new way in which a certain company was contributing to Project Red during the month of December. I decided to check it out online and then in the store on December 1st. Here is what I found:
On December 1st (World AIDS Day), if you bought a specialy product (the ones that cost more), then 5 cents of your purchase went to fight HIV/IADS Africa. The rest of the month of December, if you buy an exclusive product your nickel is going to the Global Fund to help fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Africa.
It is clear this company values community, it was started on the concept of the "third place" where people would come and be and mingle, similar to the community you found on the series "Cheers". This is a way to promote coming together as people and helping a continent fight for their life. It is also clear that this company is also a corporation with marketing plans and the desire to push their product and sell. It's a mixed bag to say the least.
So, when I walk into one of their stores in December, I can self-gratify through my drink as well as self-gratify by giving to someone in need. When it comes down to it, it's not about those in Africa, it's about me. Brilliant marketing to the American culture where philanthropy is beginning to be the "in" thing ... or is it?
I watched on Facebook as quite a few of my friends "joined" to be part of World AIDS Day by committing to go to this retailer and buy a specialty item to give a nickel to fight AIDS in Africa. Quite a few people were buying into it. I also watched an employee at the store telling a customer that just bought a specialty item, "You just gave 5 cents to help fight AIDS in Africa. You saved a life today. Doesn't that make you feel good about yourself?" His response was, "only 5 cents?" He was not buying into it.
Interestingly enough this company's slogan for December is "We believe 'tis better to give and receive." Read it again closely and then compare to Acts 20:35. Fascinating, huh?
What I am not saying is not to buy Project Red items or participate as a community to giving to those in need. What I am saying is that as a Christian community we should seriously consider what is sacrifical giving and what is passive act of giving. What is giving that glorifies God versus giving that satisfies our sense of worth. How are we different than the world if we give as they do? Are we just joining with culture and doing as they do or are we doing what we're called to do - give sacrificially, gladly and not for self-satisfication, but because of our love for God and sacrifical service. Why not think of ways to give that are biblical rather than what the world does? Why not decide to not buy anything from the store in the month of December, practice the disciplines of fasting from their items and simplicity and save that money and give to fight AIDS in Africa or whatever it is God is calling you to give to?
As I am writing this I realize that I have been talking about this since I found out about it, but haven't been practicing in my actions the words that have been coming out of my mouth. I've avoided the items, but haven't made the positive movement of saving and giving. That changes today.