When my mother was sick with cancer, we had to find new food for her to eat. Some of the great food supplements that she liked were the nutritional drinks like Ensure and Boost, you know, the ones that are like a little meal in a bottle.
So, I went to the supermarket to buy some, and, as I always do, I looked for the store-brand equivalent. It doesn’t have all the flashy advertising and bells and whistles on the outside like the name brand. In fact, it’s plain boring on the outside. But on the inside, what really matters, it’s actually the exact same thing – and it costs less.
So, I found the store-brand pack for $6 and the Ensure pack for $7. That’s a no-brainer.
Well, at the checkout, because of the little store cards that the cashiers scan in, the Ensure people know that I bought the store-brand. So, the check-out machine printed me out a nice coupon: $4 off two Ensure packs.
Great, I thought, now the next two Ensure packs would cost $10, whereas the next two store-brand packs would cost $12. That means the Ensure is $1 better than the store-brand for each pack. I’ll get two Ensure packs the next time.
So I did.
When I passed through the check-out this time, I got another coupon: $2 off one Ensure pack.
Great, I thought, now the next Ensure pack would cost $5, whereas the next store-brand pack would cost $6. Again, that means the Ensure is $1 better than the store-brand for that pack.
But, I can’t get two this time, only one.
So I got the one.
When I passed through the check-out this time, I got another coupon: $2 off two Ensure packs. I almost didn’t notice the word “two”, and when I did I thought, “Wait a minute, that puts it at the same price as the store-brand. I would be paying the same price for what really matters, plus I’d have to be hunting down coupons. And what is next, but to end up buying it without the coupons?”
What a scandal!
So I went back to the store-brand.
And I still get the coupons for $2 off two. And I throw them out.
So, do you see?
Do you see how, by offering me a discount for what really matters, the people at Ensure want to lead me to forget what really matters and replace it with themselves? They want to get me to believe that I need them instead of what really matters. They want to scandalize me.
If anyone offers you a discount on the cost of discipleship, don’t buy it. “So likewise every one of you that does not renounce all that he possesses, cannot be my disciple.” (Lk 14:33) They want to replace what really matters with themselves. They want to scandalize you.
“But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal comes.” (Mt 18:6-7)
It is an offer you can refuse.