[This is the twenty-first post about the Blessed Hope–the return of Jesus Christ (Perilous times)]
There are times when I admire people who trek into a remote area of the country, build a nice log cabin, and spend winters enjoying venison stew while they sit in a rocking chair by the fire.
But most of the time, I know I wouldn’t last long as a doomsday prepper. I don’t like to be cold and I’m too squeamish to kill my own meat.
You won’t find me out on the fringe, but I rebel in my own little ways. Especially when I feel pressure to conform.
Up-and-comers don’t remember a time when we didn’t have the internet. Millennials are comfortable giving away fingerprints, having their faces recognized, and handing out birth dates.
Some things are meant to be private. And those who pressure you to give information you’d rather not share are invading your privacy.
What happens to those who don’t conform? It doesn’t take long to find out. Visit your nearest retail store.
After Christmas last year, I planned to use a gift card at a cosmetics store. Once at the store, I found some eye makeup then stood in a ten-person line for about fifteen minutes. Finally, I stood at the front.
“Phone number?” The cashier asked.
“I don’t give out my phone number.”
“Well, I can’t look up your account if you don’t.”
“I don’t have an account.”
“If you had an account you could save up to ten per cent off, plus get notifications of all our sales.”
“I don’t want an account,” I said, knowing the “sale notifications” would jam my email inbox every day.
A dismayed, “I can’t believe how stupid you are” look passed over the cashier’s face. Instantly, I became a nonentity in her estimation.
“Anyone want this woman’s star points?” She crooned down the line of waiting customers.
“I do, I do,” said a young woman two persons down from me.
“Okay, what’s your number?” The clerk asked. The woman gave it. The salesperson then rang up my purchase and typed in the other person’s store ID. After about five minutes of wrangling, I still wasn’t checked out.
I felt cheated. A loved one had given me this card as a gift and I used it for purchases. Yet someone else was given the preferred-customer treatment. I don’t think the salesperson even thanked me after the purchase.
This week, I shopped for clothes I needed for an upcoming meeting. After sifting through racks of clothing, I found a top I liked.
Thankfully, no one stood in line to check out. After figuring out which credit card chip-reading machine to use, I scooted to stand in front of it and waited to have my purchases scanned.
“Phone number?” The salesperson asked.
“I’m not in your computer,” I replied, knowing what came next.
“You sure? I think that blouse you’re wearing is one of ours. You must have shopped here before.”
“Really?” I said, incredulous. I couldn’t remember where I purchased the blouse months earlier, but somehow this complete stranger did.
“Oh sure,” she said. “Mind if I check the label?”
At this point, I was amused. “Sure, go ahead and check.” I laughed and turned around. The woman actually checked the label inside my shirt, just below the collar.
“Yep, thought so. It’s one of ours,” she said. “You sure you’re not in our computer? Phone number?” The woman was so insistent, I gave her an old landline number we didn’t use.
“Not in there,” she said.
After being made to feel like I’d wasted valuable minutes of her time, she finally tapped through screen after screen and came to a page that would allow her to add up my purchases.
The chip reader accepted my fully pushed-in card. After signing the screen with an illegible signature, I had my one sleeveless top stowed safely in a bag.
I escaped to the front of the store and waited for a friend who was trying on clothes. As luck would have it, I found two other blouses I liked while I waited. Knowing what was coming next, I approached the counter.
A younger, manager-type woman greeted me and attempted to check me out. We had the same phone number discussion. The other salesperson warned the manager, “I’ve already been through this with her.”
The manager girl’s eyes were glued to the screen in front of her. She tapped and tapped, scrolling through gobbledy-gook screen pages. Finally, she rolled her eyes, added my purchases, and waited as I inserted and signed. I was thanked, but felt like I’d barely escaped with my dignity intact.
I’d been disrespected, humiliated, and sent on my way.
As disgusted and humiliated as I felt, how much greater will be the pressure to conform during the last days?
The Bible prophesies about a time when we won’t be able to buy or sell without the mark, number, or name of the antichrist (Rev. 13:16-17). And failure to take the “mark” may risk not only your dignity, but your life and the lives of those you love.
The pressure is already on. Intimidation, peer pressure, and disrespect will come to those who reject intrusive technology.
A time will come when those “not in the system” will lose everything. Thankfully, when that happens, Christians will be “not in this world.” We’ll have changed addresses–not to a log cabin but to a place that Jesus has prepared, just for us (John 14:1-3).