I have recently found an affection for three shows of a similar nature: Pawns Stars, Storage Wars and American Pickers.
In these three shows the premise is the buying and selling of items for a profit. The matter of acquiring these items is a little different in each show. On Pawn Stars, people bring their items to the pawn shop where they sell or pawn an item for an agreed upon amount of money. On American Pickers, the men go to the people and search through their possessions and pick out the ones they believe to be worth the most money. And on Storage Wars, a group of different people go to storage auctions and buy lockers based largely on blind faith, and then take the items from the locker and attempt to sell them for a profit.
What I find amazing about these shows is the basic premise of each of the buyers on the shows: they are each buying for the express purpose of turning around and selling the item for maximum profit. It does not matter how much they pay for the item, it does not matter how amazingly cool the item is, or how extremely rare the item is, the item is for sale.
I do not blame these men for doing their jobs, they do not lie, and they are very straight forward the entire time. These men need to make money to support their families, to pay their employees, to put food on the table; they have every right to buy and sell every item they come into possession of for a profit.
But it does cause one to think. How can someone have such a cold relationship to the items that they are dealing with? Buying and selling items at such an amazing rate causes one to wonder, is there anything that does not have a price tag attached to it? Is there anything that these men would not sell for the sake of a dollar?
Personally, when watching these shows, there are more than a few items that I would not mind keeping for myself if I was in the position to purchase them. U.S. coins and stamps, baseball cards, some early Americana, classic cars, a 1950’s pedal car, not to mention a few other odds and ends that would look quite nicely in my own home. And someone with different tastes would have no trouble buying some other items that appear on the show for their home.
Now that does not mean I would have no trouble selling the things I did not like for a profit. You cannot buy everything, so there is no problem selling the stuff that I do not want; and likewise others would have no trouble selling the stuff they do not like. The difference between myself and others buying items, and the men on these shows is strictly volume. I buy items in smaller quantities than those on the shows.
So ultimately, I would not be unlike those on these shows who sell everything that comes into their possession. I would keep a few more things, but ultimately would sell a lot more than I would keep.
Now what about God? What price would you put on God? Our initial reaction is that there is no way that we could ever sell our love for God, and at least initially that is true: most of the time there is not a price tag on our love for God. But we do trade God off when it is convenient for us. We trade going to church in for going to a game. We trade reading the Bible in for talking to a friend. We sell our time to the highest bidder, and the devil is always standing there with a shiny toy or distraction to lure us away from God and to the sins that demand our time, our treasure, and our lives.
Fortunately, there is quite a difference between what we do and what God does. God has purchased us at a substantial price: not with gold or silver, but with the holy, precious, and innocent blood of His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. That is a premium price, particularly when you consider what God has on His hands: we are hardly what one would call a premium item. We are after all broken beyond human repair; our sins have disfigured us beyond recognition; the stench of our sins makes us hardly attractive.
Now by our standards, we would keep the people that are in fair to decent shape, and get rid of the rest rather quickly. Ultimately, how many of us would sell the people we do not like: perhaps a neighbor who annoys us, or a friend who betrays us, or a family member who disagrees with us. True to form, we find ourselves unwilling to spend more than a few cents on behalf of our neighbors, let alone pay a premium price for them.
And yet, God pays the ultimate price of His one and only Son for us, His chosen people, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Warts and all, filthy stench, disfigured by sin, broken physically and spiritually; there is not a person who stands before God as a prize possession. And yet for each and every one of us, God paid the ultimate price of His Son.
Now on these shows, the item may be purchased at various prices, but they are all sold off. But that is not how God works: He has paid the ultimate price for us, and now He keeps us. He actually wants us, we are His children, He has called us by name in the waters of Holy Baptism. There is no price at which God would trade us off at.
Our allegiance is often on sale to the highest bidder; but God has already paid the ultimate price and won us for Himself. Thanks be to God that we are more valuable to God than any earthly treasure.