Walking through almost any modern superstore, the cacophony of noises around us urge us to buy more, use more, expend more so that we can be valued more. Walking into Costco, you are immediately hit with dozens of T.V. screens advertising not only products to buy, but urging you to buy the television itself. If you only had a bigger T.V., THEN you’d be fulfilled
Meandering through Target or Walmart we are also confronted with the dispensability of modern goods: use what’s the latest and greatest and then move on. These products exist to make you a better or more like-able person, if you’re not experiencing that, then you don’t have enough, so go buy more.
The explosion of cable, satellite, and streaming video services has shallowed and cheapened our experience of watching a sitcom. We now stream a show online, find a pirated version of it, or somehow hack the experience of what it means to be a viewer, and even more, a consumer.
If we’re bored, we tune it out and go find something new.
And the church has done this with Jesus.
“Thus it affects the drive to sex and violence, which is the prime compensation for emptiness in a culture that has only one sin left – boredom.”
Like choosing our new favorite television show, we’ve found it acceptable to pick and choose what we like and obey from Jesus.
We’ve become content to attend (not participate) in a Sunday Service and find it perfectly acceptable to leave if “I’m not being fed.” We want to be entertained, and not serve. We feel entitled to a good time, and not committed to communally loving those around us.
It’s become entirely too easy to turn the channel on the local church, and many people who call themselves Christians bounce from church to church always looking for the latest and greatest.
We feel entitled to 700 channels on T.V. to watch, and 700 different choices of Christianity, and our favorite is whatever one is the easiest and most enjoyable.
So we praise and promote preachers who tell us that God’s greatest desire is to make you fat and happy, while those who earnestly call us to take up our crosses are pushed to the margins.
We celebrate the public figures that tell us to sit back and enjoy the good life, while there are those in our midst that hungering and thirsting and wasting away from having too little.
We brag about our ever increasing waistline while our tolerance for spiritual discipline continues to decline.
I’m reminded of the words of Paul from 1 Corinthians 11 as he confronts people abusing this sort of selfish and abusive behavior in the church: “So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk.”
Our calling as a Jesus follower is not for more of the same. It’s not to do things the way the world does with Jesus somehow included. Instead, it’s to offer an alternative, something that is truly different and better and can’t be found anywhere else. Our goal is not self-satisfaction but self-sacrifice. We pursue the cheap and easy instead of the costly and hard, all the while trusting that it will produce within us an abundance of fruit so that by our lives people will be able to taste and see that the Lord is good.
We’ve done a double disservice to Jesus in that we not only want to consume more, but even validate our consumerism as a way to serve better. The perfect living room with the right sized television with the perfect accent wall that we saw on HGTV will allow us to feel content enough to get involved in the lives of those around us. But in reality, we have everything that we need to get started now: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and the Spirit of God empowering us if we are only willing to take our eyes off our ourselves and onto a world that is looking for good news.
I’ve also got thoughts on a cheap Jesus, who is now 50% off.
The above quote is from Os Guinness’ book Fit Bodies, Fat Minds (page 93).