“American Pickers” is a TV reality show that some people find addictive and others find boring. Mike Wolfe (the tall one) and Frank Fritz (the short one) are co-owners of an antique store in Davenport, Iowa, and they travel through the highways and byways of America looking for good deals on hidden treasures people have tucked away in their attics and garages. When they find something they like, they dicker with the owner over a purchase price. Some of the people they encounter are themselves antique dealers, while others are just pathological hoarders. Most of them tend to be pretty colorful characters.
One television evening with “American Pickers,” I heard a guest express a philosophy that Mike and Frank seemed to agree with: “You don’t regret the things you buy; you regret the things you didn’t buy.”
The next day, those words popped up in my mind, and I couldn’t let them go. It slowly dawned on me that I had a profound disagreement with the values they were expressing. In fact, I could look around and see lots of things I had bought but no longer had any use for. I’d love to have the money I spent on them back in my wallet. Conversely, I couldn’t think of anything that I had refrained from buying, but in retrospect wished I had bought. Somehow I was doing just fine without things I may have once thought of as necessities and was tempted to buy. I regretted some purchases, but I had no regrets about non-purchases.
It struck me that this had meaning beyond the realm of acquiring material things. There was a parallel application in the realm of ideas. I reflected on the choices I had made whether to “buy” this idea or that idea as I encountered them throughout my Christian upbringing and my education. At this point in my life, I look back and feel thankful for the ideas I have bought into and just as thankful for many, many ideas I have refused to buy. The Apostle Paul warned believers not to be “tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14). Two thousand years later, things haven’t gotten any simpler. It seems a new spiritual gimmick is created and marketed every day. Tabloid Christianity confuses sincere believers at every turn.
Maybe it’s time for me to start a new TV reality show; I think I’ll call it “Christian Pickers.” We’ll go around the country looking in on the latest fad Christian groups, with the cleverest slogans and most irresistible personalities. We’ll go through all their religious attics and garages, selecting the most unique and bizarre new teachings. Then we will refuse to buy any of them!
Do you think “Christian Pickers” will be a hit?
— Pastor George Van Alstine