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jesus.jpgSo today we stop and rest and think about how grateful we are. Then tomorrow we’re back to being Americans, ready to run over other people in order to get a DVD player for $50, even though we already have 3 DVD players at home and 1 in the car.

Hearing people camp out for 3 days to get their little hands on a Playstation 3 is quite embarrassing. Maybe the worst “characteristic” of America is consumerism. Why are we determined to “get” stuff all the time? Now to be honest, I’m also a consumer, I buy things that I do not have to have. I do have an iPod and an iBook, I buy stuff like that and by no means do I think it’s wrong.

When I think of consumerism, I think of being in a constant state of spending. Spending that is based on emotion and credit card use. I have been down this road before and I had to repent. I no longer use credit cards, because I always find a way to “max” my cards out. I “justify” why I need stuff that I don’t really need.

So consumerism is a huge issue in America today. I can’t help but wonder how the church should respond to this. I wonder if we haven’t added fuel to the fire? Do we spend to lavishly on stuff that really doesn’t matter? By no means am I advocating legalism, I just think as Christ followers we have to be aware of the culture that we create. Yesterday I was working in the ghetto of S. Dallas; I could not help but feel like I’ve let some folks down and so has the church.

So how can we as Christ followers respond to consumerism? Here are some of my thoughts:

1. Do you really need what you are purchasing? Will it end up in some storage facility in 4- months?
2. What is your budget, has your purchase been budgeted?
3. If you are purchasing something on a credit card, and it’s not a true need or an emergency, and you can’t pay it off within the first month, then you have to ask yourself if you’re making wise choices with your finances.
4. Are you giving your money away? Are you tithing? Do you allow your resources to be used by others in need? Are you a giving person? I have a rule, I almost always give stuff away. I never want to “sell” anything to a friend. I think it’s important to just give.

I’m sure there are plenty of other things I can add, but I do want to say this, When you look at your budget, it truly is a great indicator of what you think is important in life. So take time and ask yourself some tough questions, because the church (which is you by the way) has a true responsibility to be givers, and to be counter-cultural to this phenomenon called consumerism.

My buddy Ken (along with his lovely wife Brenda, which are some of the most generous people I know) reminded me that tomorrow is Buy Nothing Day. Now, I would not say that you can’t buy nothing; and I think “buy nothing day” is extreme. I guess I would say, if your going to buy, just be wise, and understand that being a good steward is a good thing.

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3 Comments

  1. Why can’t the same principles be flipped around and be found beneficial? Here are my thoughts on this:

    1. Can you save money by shopping MORE on Nov. 24, and use the money saved to give to others in need?
    2. If the item does end up in storage in 4 months, can that be an opportunity to donate that expensive HD Projector to a church’s multimedia department?
    3. Giving and tithing should come from one’s willing heart, not from the guilt of being a consumer.
    4. Ultimately, there is no such thing as “Buy Nothing day” in a free market economy – whether you realize it or not, you will still eat, drink, heat your house, perhaps drive your car, turn on your lights, shower and watch TV. ALL of this is consumption 🙂

  2. Virgil,

    Thanks for stopping by and chatting. I do agree with your thoughts-and by no means do I have this all figured out.

    However, I just think the overall atmosphere seems sad, almost as if we are desperate to get more stuff.

    But I do understand that there is no “right” way to go about this. But, I do think consumerism is out if hand in America. And Christ-followers have to be aware of this and try to bring a Godly balance.

  3. Chris, sad indeed. I am convinced that way too many people in our society are addicted to “stuff” – but I am starting to wonder if that’s not God’s way of teaching us to be humble and teach us that there is more to life than tangible stuff; it seems like Christ’s ministry was all about illustrating the importance of the spiritual by using the tangible and the physical to teach us important lessons about the greater spiritual.

    The danger is that we can fall into either extreme: focus too much on the spiritual and forget the needs of our bodies or ignore the needs of others, OR focusing too much on the physical needs of others at the expense of the realities of the spiritual.


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