Black Market Detective
Black Market Detective Courtesy Library of Congress, 1910

Shadowy Deals

The dark underbelly of my kids high school has been exposed. We think things were rough when we were kids, walking to school uphill both ways in the snow and such, but my children face an even uglier reality. They have been blindsided by the nine scariest words in the English language: “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help”.

Sure, you may not believe the conspiracy theories purported on the X-Files (“the truth is out there”) or that men didn’t go to the moon, but there is one reality we cannot deny. Government regulation has two effects: The intended one (maybe) and the unintended consequences (always).

The government recently decided that “bad” foods like Coca-Cola, candy bars and the like would be banned from high school vending machines. In addition, big brother decided that school lunches should have limits on calories and fat content. So, what did they do?

Government Regulation In Action

Did they provide an innovative, brilliant system for providing healthier, fresher meals (cynical laughter here)? Did they add a sous chef to create delicious concoctions? Did they improve their supply chain to get better food at lower costs and appreciably improve the quality of the meals?


They took the same crappy food they had and shrank the portion size so the amount of fat and calories per meal is reduced, thereby giving the illusion of healthier meals. Nice job. Now, the unintended consequence:

The high school now has a highly efficient black market for cokes, candy, and cinnamon buns.

The principle is true with illegal drugs, human trafficking (sadly), and also true with Kit-Kats. If there is an audience that will pay for access, someone will figure out a way to supply.

Law vs. Rebellion

I don’t have a moral issue with the entrepreneurial teenagers who are selling cold Cokes to the kids at school (yeah, they are cold…and the vendor makes change and everything – only thing he lacks is a Square so he can accept credit cards). What I wonder is, did the regulators anticipate the black market or were they totally clueless, feeling like they had done something worthwhile?

I will never know for sure. What I do know is that our ingenuity will find a way to meet a need. We will find a way “around” rules we don’t agree with. Following the law is something we aren’t very good at. Call it sin nature, call it a rebellious spirit, but our resistance to laws is why we need a savior in the first place. Its why we can’t “make it” on our own no matter how hard we try.

Laws will never fully quell the human spirit. The gospel is growing faster in China than in America, for example, precisely because the oppression inspires passion in Christians. The Chinese have unintentionally created a black market that offers Christ.

Our rebellious nature won’t allow us to settle for undersized school lunches when Kit-Kats call to our hearts.

Cinnamon bun God

A Cinnamon Bun God

Unfortunately, the church has too often fallen into the role of “regulated cafeteria” rather than the heart-freeing, life-giving cinnamon bun experience our hearts long for. Make no mistake – you will get your cinnamon bun, one way or the other. You will arrange for it. You will plan for it. You will angle. You will make it happen.

The question is, do you believe that Jesus is the source of cinnamon buns or do you see him as the source of the laws and restrictions?

Paul said it this way: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatian 5:1 (NIV)

If you believe that Christ offers only bondage and the world offers freedom, you will find the Christian life to be difficult, uninspiring and unappealing. Without faith that God is good and has your best interests at heart, you will constantly doubt Him and be lured away. Check out Hebrews 11:6:

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

You must believe that He rewards those who seek Him.

He is a cinnamon bun God. Not a God of eating 15 of them at a sitting and yacking them up, but a God of enough to give you joy. Real joy. He loves you. His plan has no unintended consequences – only life.

So, black markets may not be all bad, particularly if they offer life or thwart a rule that isn’t working anyway. So, faithfully expect your cinnamon bun in His timing. Trust Him and choose well.



Jeff McKinney
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Jeff McKinney

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