Original Posting At https://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2018/08/19/gods-design-an-imitation-of-god/
These thoughts were offered at Franklin United Methodist Church on Sunday, August 12, 2018. This message was based upon a reading from Ephesians 4:25-5:2. This is message is part of a series, entitled “God’s Design,” based upon the book of Ephesians.
I have developed a handout to accompany this teaching and, hopefully, further the discussion in your home or small group. You can download it here.
We have made a science out of influencing people. Whether we think we are an influencer or not, we are being influenced, marketed to in very specific ways that will, the influencer hopes, will lead to specific actions. Grocery stores will often put the products its consumers are most likely to buy on opposite ends of the store; it’s a simple situational factor that forces you to walk the entire store full of other items you might see and purchase.
Perhaps you’ve visited the office of an apartment complex and noticed how great it looked and even smelled. It’s no coincidence. The managers of the complex were trying to get you to stay for a while and have a look at their facilities. Research shows that “strategic fragrancing” results in customers staying in stores longer, buying more, and leaving with better impressions of the quality of stores’ services and products. Mirrors near hotel elevators are another example. Hotel operators have found that when people are busy looking at themselves in the mirrors, they don’t feel like they are waiting as long for their elevators (Moore, 2008).
The way lines operate at Disney World and the Registry of Motor Vehicles are intentionally designed to make it feel like the time is going by more quickly. We are being influenced to do and feel certain things, by contrived situational factors, often without knowing that we are being influenced in a controlled environment.
But, it’s not just the environment that influences us.
Companies like Pampered Chef that sell their products at parties understand that the social situation makes a difference. When you’re at a friend’s Pampered Chef party, you don’t want to look cheap or disappoint your friend by not buying anything. Certain social situations can also make you less willing to buy products. You might spend quite a bit of money each month eating at fast-food restaurants like McDonald’s and Subway. Where do you take someone for your first date? Some people might take a first date to Subway, but other people would perhaps choose a restaurant that’s more upscale. Likewise, if you have turned down a drink or dessert on a date because you were worried about what the person you were with might have thought, your consumption was affected by your social situation (Matilla & Wirtz, 2008).
We have made a science out of figuring out how people are influenced—by their environment, social surrounding, time, mood, personal and self-concept, gender, age, and stage of life. These influences can be manipulated or capitalized in order to pull us toward certain action; and, organizations, companies, and individuals often use that knowledge toward their own ends; and, to be clear, that’s not inherently a bad thing.
In the letter to the Hebrews, the writer urges us to “consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25, New Revised Standard Version).
We are called to love and good deeds; and, we are called to provoke and use our influence to inspire others to do the same.
There are many influencers vying for us to do certain things. Paul urges, in our reading for today, that we pay attention to the things we do and why we do them. Why? Because people are watching.
Within 5 miles of this building there is an estimated population 69,855 people. According to polling data, it is projected that 65.9% of those (46,034 people) people are not involved in a religious congregation or community. The top 5 reasons people outside a religious congregation or community do not participate in one is because 1) religious people are too judgmental; 2) religion is too focused on money; 3) there is a lack of trust in organized religion; 4) people are disillusioned with religion; and, 5) people do not believe in God.
Friends, people are starving to see and experience God in their midst. The question is: will they find it in the church or somewhere else? Therefore,
31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, 2 and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 4:31-5:2, New Revised Standard Version).
Practice strategic fragrancing: don’t spread bad smells that might be off-putting and repulsive, offer the sweet smells that entice people to come and know the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Amen? and amen.
 Principles of Marketing (University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing, 2010), https://open.lib.umn.edu/principlesmarketing/chapter/3-1-factors-that-influence-consumers-buying-behavior/, accessed August 11, 2018.