Consumerism. It is one of the many driving forces in our country. We are inundated with it. Everything from new cars, computers and phones, to the size of our homes/apartments, the quantity of clothes in our closets and the expensive coffee that is being sold in the shop where I type this (I am just borrowing their internet…no java this time 🙂 ).
This year, as I reflect on my fast approaching birthday, the Lord showed me just how much I have been led to be concerned about what I produce and not how I produce it. It’s about the product I am selling, we are selling…we are buying.
It doesn’t matter what the product is. It can be the laptop I am typing on, the car I drive, the food I ate for lunch, the book I am considering buying, the church I attend. Everything is marketed to the consumer. Everything. And yet, we live in the biggest junk generation the world has ever seen.
Yesterday’s fashion is out of date today and rags tomorrow. Yesterday’s brand new car is today’s trade-in and tomorrow’s junk yard tenant. And we don’t seem to care. This culture isn’t just American. It’s beginning to be adopted by Christians as well.
“Get this book and it will change your life.” “This sermon is guaranteed to produce what you are looking for.” “Our church has the best…” There’s so much flash, theatrics and production in Christian circles until it seems like we are competing with the special effects of the movies.
As I study the words of Eugene Peterson, Richard Foster, and most of all, Jesus, I am increasingly convinced this consumerism not only is masked idolatry, but it is essentially a shortcut to the life we want. If we can get whatever “it” is–because it promises to give us what we are looking for/need–then we will be happy. Yet, the kingdom does not work that way. Jesus and His Kingdom are completely counter-cultural.
We read the Gospels. We preach the gospels (sometimes). We brand and market the gospels and our churches to reach people. We run, run, run to produce results but we never take into account the process of God to bring something–AND SOMEONE–to maturity. God didn’t send Jesus as an old wage, weathered and wise. He didn’t have Jesus begin preaching at 15. His entry was thunderous. It was quiet, subtle and subversive. Jesus spent 30 years listening, waiting, growing in wisdom in preparation for the day when His ministry would begin.
God didn’t rush the process of our Savior, yet we are in such a hurry to produce results. We don’t pray and listen. We pray and tell God to bless what we’ve said or created. We walk fast, drive fast, talk fast, work fast. We live life always anxious, always on to the next thing. Always running, always tired. Always searching. Always empty. We produce these huge accomplishments, but we are mean and impatient with ourselves, God and each other the entire time. We rush to accomplish and by rushing we automatically undo what we set out to do for God. He never Never NEVER rushed. He invites us to not run but walk with Him. Our hurry hurts the poor, the needy, the people we are called to reach. Our hurry hurts our own souls. The more hurry…the less holy…
If we are to “sell” anything to this consumeristic culture, it is not the product, but the process. It is not what we produce, but how we produce it.
The life that God calls us to has no shortcuts. I think He designed it that way. The only way for us to grow, to hear from Him, is to stop, slow down and sit at His feet.
There are no shortcuts. No fast tracks to maturity or development.
Like Eugene Peterson said, “It is a long obedience in the same direction.”