Amazon.com, Inc. created one of the most recognizable and meaningful logos ever. The curved arrow points from the “a” to the “z” under the word “amazon.” The smirk it creates reminds you that Amazon can make you happy by delivering everything from “a” to “z.” The cardboard box smiles at you when the delivery man hands you whatever you ordered, and you usually smile back with excitement.
Amazon deserves credit for a brilliantly simple mark. It works to make good on its promise. Indeed, I benefit regularly from its services.
We should receive the good things of this life with joy. As Christians, we should remember with every Amazon package that lands at our doorstep that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega (the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet). He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He alone can make all things new. He alone can make us smile for eternity.
Our trouble begins when we look to any earthly provider for our ultimate happiness. That can become a temptation for us as Amazon consumers. And, the problem can be magnified as such suppliers grow. When we are beholden to someone to supply our happiness, we fall prey to idolatry. Then, the script flips. Rather than asking how our god can make us happy, we find ourselves asking what will make our god happy.
Could that be happening in twenty cities across America today? Amazon chose my home city of Indianapolis as one of twenty cities to consider for its planned second headquarters known as HQ2. Cities covet HQ2 because it will bring up to 50,000 high paying jobs. It will infuse a once-in-a-lifetime charge to the local economy.
Community leaders in these twenty cities are laboring to entice Amazon to settle there. In Indianapolis, which is admittedly a long-shot candidate, people love to talk about the possibility of landing HQ2. One local columnist observed that, now, local citizens are looking at our potholes, our dysfunction in City Council, and our public transportation problems with Amazon in mind. “What will Amazon think?” the columnist suggested we should ask as we consider all of our weaknesses together. Then, we might take a more holistic look how we appear to Amazon or other significant potential investors. After all, they look, and they judge.
This makes good business sense, and our city should think strategically. But we also ought to guard against idolatry in personal and public ways. Some cities may over-incentivize and sell their proverbial soul for what they think will satisfy and eventually find themselves impoverished and beholden to others in ways not previously known.
I cannot charge anyone in Indianapolis or elsewhere with idolatry as they seek to woo Amazon; I do not know people’s hearts. I want to see our local economy grow for the glory of God and the good of people. But, we could be close to the doorstep of idolatry when we ask “how can we make Amazon happy so that Amazon can make us happy?”
To guard against idolatry, we should not begin by asking “What will Amazon think?” Rather, we should begin by asking “What will the Alpha and the Omega think?” Jesus is watching all of our ways. He says, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:12-13).
Further, he promises far more than any corporation on earth can when he says “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment” (Revelation 21:6).