Another well known personality has passed unexpectedly. According to an AP news report Billy Mays, 50, was found unresponsive by his wife in his Tampa home Sunday morning. The same report indicates that he was interviewed by local television a day earlier after being hit on the head by a falling object when his airliner blew a tire at a rough Tampa Airport landing.
Billy’s friends remember him as a gentle man with a big heart.
I remember Billy’s infomercials for the amazing absorbent Shammy, the Orange Glow, and the OxiClean. They helped to popularize the “But wait! Call now and we’ll send not one but two…” sales formula that has been copied by countless other ” must-have” products that press for an immediate sale.
Admittedly, I’ve been hooked by some of those too-good-to-be-true pitches over the years. Have bought some of the “As seen on TV” wonder products that never quite lived up to the hype. Made me pretty skeptical whenever I see the often imitated direct response clones.
Unfortunately, the public perception of these “call now” product pitches is not as significant or as serious as the similar reputation that follows “the Gospel”.
It’s almost too painful to think about the way the credibility of the “good news” of Christ has been pitched for immediate response, for dollars, and for numbers. Who can estimate the damage done to the real truth and urgency of the message that has been cheapened and damaged by exaggerated claims of immediate benefits, scare-tactics, and the hidden agenda of gospel pitchmen?
The Apostle Paul seems to have encountered a similar problem early on. He wrote about not wanting to be like those tried to merchandise the Gospel to line their own pockets (In 2Cor 2:17 he refers to the danger of the using the gospel to make money. The KJV word “corrupt” has the meaning of “to peddle, or sell something for monetary profit”.)
Interestingly, Paul still regarded the message of Christ to be a matter of all due urgency and of unparalleled importance. He was not hesitant to say that now is the only sure opportunity we have to accept Christ. So he wrote to the Corinthians, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2Cor 6:2).
But in saying that, the Apostle also went to almost indescribable lengths to make it clear that he wasn’t using Jesus for money. If you have any doubts about the man many regard as the first-century’s #1 salesman for Christ, read again what he endured to show that his own deep confidence in a message that way too many believe is too good to be true (2Cor 6:3-11).
In Billy’s passing, and in light of the depth of the Apostle Paul’s integrity, am thinking how important it is for every part of our lives to resonate with the claims we make for Christ.