I was just reading an interview with Skye Jethani, entitled, When Christianity Becomes a Brand from Regent College.
He was asked if there were any particular biblical texts or stories that had shaped his thinking on consumerism?
He quoted Psalm 27 and the Prodigal Son story from the Gospel of Luke. He went on to say, “what often happens [is that] we come out of a consumer posture, and believe that we’re supposed to just use God to achieve our desires. But then, often what the church communicates is all God really cares about is using you to accomplish his mission or accomplish his desires. And both of those really stem from a consumeristic idea that God exists to be used and we exist to be used. But what you get in Scripture is a far deeper calling of intimacy in God, of the inherent value of God. And then discovering that he believes we have inherent value as well, and he’s not really interested in using us but he desires us, wants to be in unity with us, and reconciled to us.”
The thing that made me get emotional over this little tid-bit was that, 1. I am guilty as charged for using God, and 2. Since coming back to church, I have felt like God just wants to use me too. The church makes God seem like he is just like the world – a consumer.
I have heard in church and from pastors that God loves me, completely and entirely, but I feel like God just wants things from me, that God has expectations of me, and I had better deliver!
This Christianity is not very freeing when you come at from a consumer-mindset.
I studied consumerism in an 18th Century English course. From my perspective, Consumerism started in England. People left the countryside to make their fortune in London. (I am not arguing that a class system is better, but it seemed to have more of a community-minded feel to it, as opposed to the developing ‘every man for himself’ mentality.)
Individualism began to take hold and capture the imagination of man. The decline of civilization?
The writers of this generation fought the change with everything they could. Alexander Pope is probably the most infamous of writers of the 18th Century in England. He wrote:
Behold the child, by nature’s kindly law,
Pleas’d with a rattle, tickl’d with a straw:
Some livelier plaything gives his youth delight,
A little louder, but as empty quite:
Scarfs, garters, gold, amuse his riper stage,
And beads and pray’r books are the toys of age:
Pleas’d with this bauble still, as that before;
‘Till tir’d he sleeps, and life’s poor play is o’er!
Meanwhile opinion gilds with varying rays
Those painted clouds that beautify our days;
Each want of happiness by hope supplied,
And each vacuity of sense by Pride:
These build as fast as knowledge can destroy;
In folly’s cup still laughs the bubble, joy;
One prospect lost, another still we gain;
And not a vanity is giv’n in vain;
Ev’n mean self-love becomes, by force divine,
The scale to measure others’ wants by thine.
See! and confess, one comfort still must rise,
‘Tis this: Though man’s a fool, yet God is wise.
(Excerpt from Pope’s, An Essay on Man)
Just say no to consumerism…
Note: To read the rest of the article, go to: http://world.regent-college.edu/profile/skye-jethani