Built To Serve
In perhaps the most short-sighted move of the weekend, Ram Trucks chose to air a commercial during the Super Bowl that featured a recording of some of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's sermon "Drum Major Instinct."
The title of the ad is "Built to Serve," and what Ram was going for was the kind of ad that would convey what they are purporting to be the soul of their company: Servanthood.
"But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s a new definition of greatness. … By giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great..."Dr. King's inspiring words about what it means to pursue the kingdom of God become a mere soundtrack over images of people supposedly using Ram trucks to serve their community.
The fact that so many pundits are reacting to the ad, and keeping it in the news means that the ad agency did it's job, I guess. But in the end, what does this say about us as a culture? Perhaps the words of Dr. King himself from the exact same sermon might shed some light:
Now the presence of this instinct explains why we are so often taken by advertisers. You know, those gentlemen of massive verbal persuasion. And they have a way of saying things to you that kind of gets you into buying.... And you know, before you know it, you’re just buying that stuff. … I got to drive this car because it’s something about this car that makes my car a little better than my neighbor’s car. … I am sad to say that the nation in which we live is the supreme culprit...You can see why Ram Trucks chose to use only a small snippet of Dr. King's sermon--a sermon that was, in part, decrying the very methods used by advertisers to try to sell us a better life.
Dr. King's quote that was used in the ad directly references Matthew 23, and the words of Jesus:
The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.May you have eyes to see and ears to hear what the Spirit is speaking to you about real and true life both today and everyday.
May you discover the power of Jesus' words, and the fulfillment that comes not from material possessions, status and false notions about what is good and true, but from humility, sacrifice, and ultimately the grace of God through Jesus himself.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.