Today we’ll consider the appeal of this year’s most popular Super Bowl ad, “Born the hard way”. The article below is part of “Topical Tuesdays” and part of my weekly email as a Chaplain to my Army unit. I offer these non-religious reads to them praying that they will want more and might view the hyperlinked Christian Resilience videos that I also send to them.
It’s a video promotion for Budweiser beer, but that’s not my focus. Even the video has a more primary appeal: our common struggle for something better. It vividly pictures one man’s journey through challenges to eventual success. A journey most of us immediately understand. For those of us who are concerned about pleasing the Lord, however, there are more basic questions. What does He call success, what are our obstacles, and how are we to wade through them with the proper faith and joy to reach the other side?
Before you read, consider some suggested discussion questions and passages on God’s call to journey from spiritual rags to spiritual riches.
- List the faithful followers of God who were or became materially wealthy. Then consider passages like Proverbs 30:7-9, Jeremiah 9:23-24, Matthew 19:24, and 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. Why might there be relatively few believers in the Bible who are known for being monetarily rich?
- When we look at Hebrews 11 as a “hall of faith” of those who journeyed with Christ and we consider the details of their lives, what are some of themes of struggle that we see? What type of “success” did they eventually enjoy? How does their “rags-to-riches” stories compare to what many seek today?
- The New Testament repeatedly emphasizes Israel’s physical journey from Egypt to the Promised Land as a metaphor of all believers’ spiritual journey from slavery in sin to real Life in Christ (Acts 7:2-53 and 13:16-41, 1 Corninthians 10:1-22, Hebrews 3:12-4:16, Jude verse 5, and Revelation 11:8 in context). Given this picture of our “rags” being slavery to sin, our “riches” being a real relationship of faith, joy, peace, and service to God through Christ, and the journey being the wilderness of this world between the two, now read about Jesus’ time in the wilderness in Matthew 4, Mark 1, and Luke 4. Why would the Spirit have immediately led Him there after Jesus was baptized (visibly joined Himself to the sinners He would save)? How did His temptations picture our basic obstacles, too?
- According to Hebrews 4:14-16, how did Jesus’ victory over the most basic of spiritual obstacles become our victory through faith in His work on the cross?
Budweiser’s Super Bowl ad clocks most views
“Rags to riches stories”
by Chaplain Jeff Dillard (7 February 2017)
Yes, even the poorest American may be much better off than the average person in the rest of the world. But today’s article is not about immigration or even material success. It’s simply the struggle for something better. All of us want that. Most of us are in the middle of that fight right now, unless we’re stuck in the muck of giving up. Today, I want to encourage you to keep fighting the good fight.
Monday’s stats from Google, which owns YouTube, revealed that viewers totaled over 350,000 hours just watching Super Bowl ads on game day. Budweiser’s “Born the Hard Way” commercial was the most popular, scoring more than 21 million hits. That’s more than twice the views of the ad that came in second. The beer vid pictures part of the harrowing journey of one the company’s immigrant German founders. (http://variety.com/2017/digital/news/watch-super-bowl-ads-commercials-online-1201979015/) No matter what our views on the current contention over illegal immigration, the story can powerfully pull us in to empathize with the more basic struggle to escape rags for eventual riches.
It’s probably safe to assume that most of us also know others who are fighting for more than their fair share of success. Many of them already have a lot of the pie and want your slice and mine, too. I’m certainly not here to encourage them or even focus on their possible motivations. I’d rather help the struggler who’s seeking to help others under their care, especially those on the edge of quitting.
If you’ve seen the video, what parts gripped you most powerfully? It wasn’t the beer. If you’re a fan of barley and hops, you might agree that there are a few better blends than Budweiser. For me, it was the reality of his adversities put in perspective by the more powerful glimpses of his face. Hope and determination. His “accommodations” in the belly of the ship, the glimpse of scars on his face, his simple amusements with paper and pencil, and his company with fellow strugglers all pointed to someone who kept going until he realized his dream. So how do we stay in the fight when it’s hard?
First, we need a clear vision of what we want and its inherent goodness. With so much hardship, it can be easy to focus on just surviving. When we fall into the fear of mere maintenance, we lose any sense of direction, zeal, and progress. We must truly love a specific future that’s not quite here yet.
Second, we need committed relationships with others who share our vision. We don’t have to completely agree on every point and timeline. In fact, there should be some differences to help each of us question what could be an even better vision and better way to get there. And we don’t have to get along in every way. We’re going to confuse, disappoint, and frustrate each other. But even those struggles can build our resolve and character, without which no one ever achieved anything great.
And we need time. Whether we’re in literal rags of forms of suffering, there are reasons it’s been hard: personal challenges, social trappings, the rarity of significant opportunity, and more. Sadly, similar 60 second videos that offer an appearance of immediate success that both excite and fool us. We will need time. But the greatest stories are often about the greatest struggles. Keep fighting.
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