Advertisers "know perfectly well that the desire for something which I neither need nor want, and which is at the very outer edge of my budgetary possibilities, is something that can be produced in me. They need to provide a model of some sort for my desires, someone who is attractive, and who is clearly enjoying him - or herself, has a certain "zing" to them, and who is more or less subtly indicating that it is ownership of this car, or immersion in the social life associated with this drink that has led them to be the beautiful, successful, well-poised chick-magnet...or whatever, that they are. Message: if only I had that, then I could be more like them. Without it, I'm only half a human being, with the wrong body shape, and so on." (James Alison, in "Jesus the Forgiving Victim.")
Advertisers even use "viral advertising in high schools. Scouts from companies like Adidas or Nike go around to various high schools, quietly searching for the most popular kids, the ones whom other students consider the "trend-setters." These are the kids who "have it," the ones whom all the other kids want to be like. Because of course no one wants to be like the left-out kids, the loners, the kids who are last to be picked for teams in gym. The scouts go to the popular kids and give them free merchandise, like a new pair of Nikes or Air Jordans. "They do this because they know very well that by giving just one pair here and there, well placed, they will sell 300 pairs in a week. Because if those kids have it, everyone who wants to be anyone has to have it." (Adair).
So it is completely counter-cultural to desire to be like Jesus, to believe that if we have what he has, we can become just like him. What did Jesus have? Well, first, we hear in Scripture "Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be exploited....Rather he emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men." So - from the moment that Jesus came among us, he desired neither heavenly nor earthly power or success. He did not have what our culture considers most valuable.
Jesus, Son of God - most powerful Being - puts all that power aside to be born a human being. When humans want to make him a king, he rejects the notion. He's not rich, he travels the countryside like a homeless nomad. He deliberately lives a simple life, close to Nature. He's only moderately popular - the powers-that-be can't stand him - and eventually they conspire with the authorities so that he dies a criminal's death. So, in human terms, Jesus had absolutely zero. Why should we want to be like him? Why should we want what he had - or has?
What DOES Jesus have? It's not what Jesus HAS, it's what Jesus IS. Jesus is Love. Jesus is Life Everlasting. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus was - and is - a part of the Trinity. And the Blessed Trinity lives and is an example of a whole different understanding of power, shared power, the power that comes from equal relationships and love. God, most powerful Being, is not a King like dominating human kings. God is not a hierarchy of power, but a circle dance of love. Fr. Richard Rohr says
"Trinity shows that God's power is not domination, threat, or coercion. If the Father does not dominate the Son, and the Son does not dominate the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit does not dominate the Father or the Son, then there's no domination in God. All divine power is shared power and the letting go of autonomous power. There's no seeking of power over in the Trinity, but only power with - a giving away, a sharing, a letting-go, and thus an infinity of trust and mutuality. This should have changed all Christian relationships: in marriage, in culture, and even in international relations...." But we human beings so often prefer Kings, wars, and empires instead of suffering servanthood or leveling love.
God invites us to participate in the ETERNAL life of this Blessed Trinity. God loves each of us as if there were no other. God, out of love, makes us one with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God, as Jesus tells us, clothes us with spiritual power from on high, all the power that we need. What is this power? The most powerful Force in the Universe: the power of humble, faithful, healing Love. The spiritual power of love is shared by the Holy Trinity and the Holy Trinity shares it with us. Why should we be so influenced by the ones whom this world considers powerful and successful when within us we carry the key to successful relationships - the ABIDING, transformational power of love!
Ask yourself: Who most influences you? Whom do you want to be like? What do you feel that you need in order to be just like them?
You see, if God most influences you and you want to be like Jesus, then you already have everything within you that you need:
You are already beautiful, handsome, God's son or daughter.
It doesn't matter whether or not your body is perfect. Your body is a glorious Temple of the Holy Spirit.
You have the only important clothing: you are clothed in spiritual power and love.
It doesn't matter what job you or your spouse have, or how much money. You have a relationship of equality and mutual sharing because you share in the life of the Holy Trinity.
You have the most wonderful dwelling promised you, the mansion God promises you in heaven.
You don't need popularity, because like Jesus you choose a simple life, dedicated to serving others.
Happiness, as they say, is an "Inside Job." If you know and believe and live it, you are happy and joyful and at peace, because Inside You is God. If this is how you live, you are content. You are totally unthreatened by other people's power, success, money, popularity, possessions, and good looks. You look at commercials as a curious Art Form rather than a Guide to How You Can Become Just Like the Rich and Famous. You spend your money fueled by legitimate needs rather than by uncontrolled desires. As Fr. Rohr says,
"Let's stop idolizing the One Percent."
What do they really have, anyway?
When we have God, we have everything we need. We are who we are meant to be. No one on this earth can promise us that having anything on earth will make us "more" than we already are.