Soren Kierkegaard once wrote of a strange break-in at a large store in his native Denmark where the thieves didn’t remove anything. When clerks opened up in the morning, all the merchandise was still there. Instead of stealing the goods, the thieves had stolen value. They had switched all the price tags, so that the worth of each item had no relation to its price: a diamond necklace valued at $2; a pair of leather shoes for 50 cents; a pencil selling for $75, and a baby’s rattle with $5000 on the sticker.
Sometimes it seems as if our society has been invaded by thieves like that. Just when we think we know the value of something, the sticker price begins to spin. Worse still, the values placed on us can bounce like a stock market chart until we don’t know who we are anymore.
Shelley Rodriguez remembers the time she brought her grandson to a farm sale near their home in Independence, Kentucky. The boy was 8 years old at the time. Immediately he was captured by the magic of the auctioneer’s sing-song voice. Yet something bothered him.
“Grandma,” he asked, “how is that man ever going to sell anything if he keeps changing the prices?”
That’s a good question for all of us.
Of course, one might also wonder about God’s price tags of human worth when reading the words from James. Why should “those who are poor in the eyes of the world” (James 2:5) have a higher value in heaven’s gaze than any other demographic group?
Though the answer is always a little slippery, it seems to have to do with the complexity of the human spirit. The hardest thing for any of us to do in life is to maintain integrity. Even though we are not, most of us, evil people, sin has a way of playing around with our hearts. On the outside we appear rather nice and respectable. In fact, much of we do is good and noble and kind and wise. No one can deny that.
That is why CLC exists. We wish to stand together with leaders who need community to reinforce integrity. We wish to nurture leaders for whom the sticker prices reflect the values of the Kingdom of God. Integrity, when it happens, seems to make people so simple. What you see is what you get.