I love a bargain. There is something invigorating about buying something at a small fraction of the original cost or current value. Although I do not really enjoy shopping, anything marked "Clearance" or "Reduced" attracts my attention.
Estate sales (not "clean out the basement" sales) often offer good opportunities to save real money on quality furniture and other items. Careful shoppers can find real savings during model and season ending sales. Sometimes the price on unboxed display items are significantly reduced.
Making purchases of sale or drastically reduced merchandise does have its drawbacks. Often the price is so attractive that you will buy something that you really don't need or want. You just can't resist the bargain and you buy something that will never be used. It will end up in your basement or your next yard sale.
Bargain shoppers also face another challenge- the "as is" items. These "treasures" are identified as having some flaws or maybe missing parts. Caveat emptor. Buyer beware.
When a sale is subject to this warning the purchaser assumes the risk that the product might be either defective or unsuitable to his or her needs. Nevertheless if you carefully examine and consider the condition of a particular item, real savings can be yours. In fact, the imperfection sometimes adds character to the item.
On the other hand, "as is" items are often damaged goods that are beyond reasonable repair.
We live in an "as is" world. God created a perfect world but since the Garden of Eden humans have made bad choices resulting in poor stewardship of our resources and relationships. We have sinned against God, our fellow human beings, and all creation.
As followers of Jesus we are called to live in an "as if" world. We recognize our reality but believe that Jesus came to "reconcile all things unto himself." The lyrics of one of Chris Tomlin's songs say that Jesus "takes the pieces and turns them to praises."
"Everything of God finds its proper place in Jesus... Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe-people and things, animals and atoms-get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross." (Colossians 1:19-20, The Message).
The authors of St. Francis and the Foolishness of God, a book of stories about St. Francis of Assisi, conclude that "just as in the time of St. Francis, the Spirit is raising up countercultural Christian communities that strive to live as if the priorities of modern society did not hold sway; as if the values of God's reign were already operative in modern society; as if our nation was still true to its foundational documents of liberty and justice for all; as if people mattered in themselves and not for their economic or social status; as if consumerism and the shopping mall did not determine the meaning of our lives; as if we were facing squarely the epidemic called AIDS and mobilizing against it; as if we were a sister nation among all other countries of the world; as if right made might and not the other way around; as if God truly exists and calls us to be co-creators of God's reign on earth; as if God cared enough about us to send the Son to share our journey on earth; as if the true Messiah went the way of the cross and came through it as the Risen One; as if resurrection meant all the difference in the world; as if we were really living out that hope."
May it be so!
[Taken with permission from "Monday Morning in North Georgia," October 10, 2011. North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.]