Our modern American world is driven and defined by consumerism and constant consumption. So much so that our recent economic downturn caused by overspending and runaway debt, was attempted to be cured by stimulus money that would "jump start" the economy. We overspent, we are in debt up to our eyeballs, and the only way we can think to fix it is to spend our way out of it. This reveals more than an economic system but an entire core of beliefs system.
Two images...consumerism and the tendency to turn God into ourselves. This is what drives the "Life from God" posture. The belief that God exists to satisfy our consumer desires to meet only what we need or desire. The extreme position on this is the "health and wealth" gospel often promoted from televised pulpits and radio shows. It is appealing because it does not ask us to change. What we desire, what we seek, what we do, and how we live--all shaped by selfishness and consumerism--are projected onto God and incorporated into our religious systems.
Let's be honest God does wish to provide our needs. We know every good gift comes from God. Jesus tells us to ask God for whatever we need. All things that have life and breath come from God. However when we become focused on this one aspect of God we lose sight of what he is actually about. Besides all of these things are centered around need not desires, wants, or a life of ease. Our consumerism tendencies make us believe that God and everyone else revolves around us. God is seen as a commodity like any other good in our marketplace. When God is delivering we praise him, we add value to his stock, and tell others about this Great God that helped me get my new favorite whatever (good family, big house, nice car, flat screen tv, good friends, or the job of your dreams). When God stops "paying off" we walk away.
The word Amusement means, "not to think." Part of our consumerism is built around our desire to be entertained. To silence out the fears, struggles, and pains in the world. We have adopted this into the church. Give me better music, a better youth program, a nicer building, and if you can't I will go someplace where I can. The effort is to not actually interact with a powerful God, but to drown out our pain and the world around us. As though we are placing noise reducing headphones on our heads once a week. In a world with more Christian programming like radio channels, tv shows, and internet sites than ever before why are people walking away at a faster rate than ever before? Because drowning out the pain doesn't make it go away.
Life from God is like the prodigal son who took his fathers wealth and then lost it all. He got all he wanted from his father, went off and used it up. When he ran out he humbly returned to his father for a job. But the father demonstrated his great love running out to meet his son while he was a long way off. Are we ready to run back to father and meet his outstretched running arms? Or are we still trying to pay the slot until it pays off?
- Here is a series of articles about the Women who played such key rolls during the Passion Week.
- A perspective on "What's Keeping Young Adults Out of Church"
- 2012 College grads might have better job opportunities and higher incomes than previous grads.
- Burma now mostly a democracy?
- Living a life of Resurrection. A good article at Christian Century.
- ABC USA Missionaries safe in India after 8.7 earthquake.
Best Quote of the Week from Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Beast
This Christianity comes not from the head or the gut, but from the soul. It is as meek as it is quietly liberating. It does not seize the moment; it lets it be. It doesn’t seek worldly recognition, or success, and it flees from power and wealth. It is the religion of unachievement. And it is not afraid. In the anxious, crammed lives of our modern twittering souls, in the materialist obsessions we cling to for security in recession, in a world where sectarian extremism threatens to unleash mass destruction, this sheer Christianity, seeking truth without the expectation of resolution, simply living each day doing what we can to fulfill God’s will, is more vital than ever. It may, in fact, be the only spiritual transformation that can in the end transcend the nagging emptiness of our late-capitalist lives, or the cult of distracting contemporaneity, or the threat of apocalyptic war where Jesus once walked. You see attempts to find this everywhere—from experimental spirituality to resurgent fundamentalism. Something inside is telling us we need radical spiritual change.