In Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan tells the story of a dream in which two characters named Christian and Faithful pass through a wicked town named Vanity. This town was noteworthy because it hosted an ancient festival known as Vanity Fair. The goods for sale at the fair included cheating, gambling, drunkenness, adultery, lewd entertainment, sinful pleasures, and countless other immoral acts.
When Christian and Faithful visit the fair, the people immediately see them as different. Their dress seems strange, as does their manner of speech. Most tellingly, the two are uninterested in any of the goods for sale. When approached by the merchants, both of them put their fingers in their ears and look upward to heaven. One seller confronts the pair and in a mocking tone asks, “What will you buy?” In righteous defiance, they respond, “We buy the truth.”
Proverbs 23:23 tells us, “Buy the truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.” Scripture places a premium on truth because it is grounded in the very nature of God. But like the denizens of Vanity Fair, the world will try to sell us all kinds of corrupt merchandise. Some of it directly opposes God and his will. We will also see cheap counterfeits that seem legitimate at first glance. The devil is no fool; he has had a long time to practice his craft (see John 8:44). By hook or by crook, his desire is to cause the downfall of everyone who names Christ as his or her Lord.
There is a time for Christians to stick our fingers in our ears and look upward. Vanity Fair is very real, and it is all around us. Like Christian and Faithful, God’s people are destined for a heavenly home. And when the world tempts us with anything sinful or false, our duty is to remind it that we only buy the truth–and that we have no interest in anything else.