Say you are browsing a website and leave without making a purchase (I know for some of us that rarely happens, but just say it does). Later on, you move on to a completely different site and notice a remarkable coincidence: a banner ad appears from that first website for the exact same product(s) you were looking at! What the heck is going on?!
Welcome to “behavioral retargeting.” A technique perfected over the last few years that tracks your behavior and then follows you around on the internet with an “on-the-fly” ad to encourage you to return and make that purchase.
When this “retargeting” first happened to me, I thought it was kind of cool because it reminded me I needed to buy this or that. But when I noticed multiple banner ads all populated with stuff I had looked at on various sites, it hit me: I’m surrounded by myself! All I see mirrored are my desires and my preferences. Everything else has been eliminated from view. It’s a closed system designed to cater to self (and self likes it).
And what concerns me about this on the web, is also true in life.
Self is strong and vocal. It really doesn’t need to be fed. Using a scriptural metaphor, it’s a “noisy gong and a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1 NASB). “Look at me!” “Listen to me!” “Please me!” “Gimme!” Most of us call that being self-centered and retargeting gives us a glimpse in visual form.
Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23 NASB). Not self-neglect, but self-denial. It’s essential and it’s daily. It’s as though self must be crucified so that the Spirit of Christ may fully live in us. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” (Galatians 2:20 NASB).
To accomplish this, God tells us to “clothe ourselves with humility” and lay down our lives daily at the foot of the cross as a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). The Lord “opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1Peter 5:5 NASB). Pride feeds the flesh and self grows dangerously strong, but humility nourishes the Spirit and bears much fruit.
We do not deny ourselves with willpower alone; we deny ourselves by submitting to, being filled with, and walking in the Spirit. It’s simply impossible to be full of yourself and be filled with the Spirit at the same time – there’s just not enough room in there! No wonder “SELF control” is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
So don’t surround yourself with yourself. Surround yourself with godly friends who manifest the life and love of Christ. And as for you personally, “throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy” (Ephesians 4:22-24 NLT).
Jesus around you; Jesus within you. Surround yourself with Jesus.
Spread the Word!
© 2015 Tim McKenzie
On Every Word Ministries