Bait and Switch – Just Don’t

crucifix hanging from string of buddhas with strange animal about to eat
Image credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/celesteh/138241344/">Charles Hutchins</a>

Galatians 2:11-14

Then, when Peter came to visit at Antioch, I had a face-off with him. He was such a hypocrite! He dined with the heathen until some of Jim’s people arrived. But then, to mollify those legalists, he cut himself off from them and kept to himself – and the Jews, even Barnabas, were suckered into joining him in his hypocrisy. When I saw what was happening, how they weren’t practicing what they preached, I told Cephas publicly, “If you’re so Jewish, and you live like a heathen, how can you expect the heathen to behave like Jews?”

If we give Peter the benefit of the doubt, he was just doing what Paul had recommended: trying to be “all things to all people.”

But I’m with Paul on this one. If you’re going to say and do something, you can’t mollify someone else’s foibles about it and maintain your credibility. Especially when you’ve made implicit commitments. Either make your case for what you’re committed to, or admit that you’re just not that committed. In business, that’s what they call “bait and switch.”

It’s never a good practice in business. Say one thing to get them in the door, and then as it turns out, there are lots of strings attached to the deal. You might get lots of people in the door, but they’re not going to stay. And no matter how good your next deal is, they’re not coming back.

Lots of churches play the game, though. “Just say you believe in Jesus is all that’s required.” That’s how it starts. But then, there are strings – you have to give up all your “pagan ways,” which can include just about anything. And it starts early. The bait comes with Sunday school. The switch comes with high school.

No wonder so few people are willing to give it another try.

My best (and Paul’s) advice to churches – and businesses, and families, and anyone else who cares to take it: Don’t bait and switch.