Consumerism is consuming us.
I know what you are thinking. It is the Christmas season. So of course, consumerism plagues us and steals moments that are meant for peace and joy.
No, that is not what I am talking about. I confess I am doing my fair share of shopping online right now. We are all consumers. We couldn’t be alive if we didn’t consume something!
Although consumerism is out of control and ridculous this time of year, there is a “consumerism” that is much more lethal. It seeps and spreads into daily life, attempting to brand my life with a disenchanting tune.
This tune sings, “It’s all about me.”
It croons, “Who is going to look after my needs?
And murmurs, “Life must always feel good and be exciting.”
The consumer life is about: what I can get out of it and what it will give to me.
The Thief comes to Steal
One time a thief came into our house. Now when a thief comes, he usually comes in secret, when someone is away or unaware. He doesn’t come announced and warning he is going to steal your stuff. No, it doesn’t work that way. A thief comes for valuable things, things we care about, that are worth something. Thieves don’t come for trashcans, coffee pots or dirty socks usually.
When my thief came (actually I have several “thief”‘ stories) he kicked in the door when I wasn’t home and stole jewelry, and electronics. He did what he came to do- to steal what he found most valuable.
There is a thief. He comes to steal something very valuable from us– that is a full life. The thief’s aim is to take from us a life that is purposeful, fruitful and full of faith. Unfortunately, we are often unaware that he is stealing, nor do we realize the life we are missing. The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.
The consumer life is a thief. It robs our joy and steals our life.
The Wrong Tune
The second I click on my device- I am deceptively wooed with this tune. Cleverly cloaked it pulls and entices me to embrace that which is far less meaningful, lovely, and fulfilling. Life easily becomes caught up in approval, experiences, feeling good, happiness, being known, noticed, and appreciated.
- I love and need to be entertained. I live for experiences.
- I demand or feel I need more free time and time off, when I actually spend more time than I would want to give account for on my phone or on Netflix,
- I would rather not have input or seek out advice for I might have to consider a different way of doing things.
- Denial of self is an unknown virtue.
- To voice how I am always feeling is a given. It is okay to complain.
- I like to talk and be heard, but it is hard to listen.
- I am consumed with my resume of sorts, whether that is in a profile or a photo or tweet– great pains are taken to look like I live an effortless life, have things to say, and have a life that is full of great experiences.
- I like to post, but I can’t help but compare and envy others.
- I need appreciation. The lack of it becomes another’s fault and worth making known.
- It is easier to attend than participate, make comments and critiques than make things happen.
- It doesn’t matter if I guzzle gas, recycle or not, up-size again, plant or cut down trees. If I drink too much, eat too much, lust over videos and pictures, covet or spend too much money it doesn’t matter. It only affects me.
- My piece in the puzzle doesn’t affect the other pieces in the puzzle of life.
If we are honest, happy and comfortable tend to drive a consumer mentality. And that is often what we say we want for others– for them to be happy, that’s all. Yet, if our goal is to avoid being uncomfortable then it will be hard to mature and grow. Pruning is uncomfortable. Growth is often painful. And it is a challenge to take steps of faith, be corrected, and sharpened.
We have been serenaded in this tune– to look after ourselves and keep our needs first, and often it comes from the palm of our own hand. Yet actually we are being called to a different tune, a different drumbeat, and to something much better.
A Different Tune
If we pause we can hear a different tune coming from a seemingly insignificant place- an ordinary birth. Yet we find that even in Christ, the Son of God, King of Kings, He was born to die- to give His life away. The will of His Father consumed Him. I imagine the cross consumed His earthly life.
The Scripture says it plain enough,
He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. 2 Corinthians 5:15
So that. The “so that” gives the follower of Christ a purpose and example. As a follower of Christ we are not called to a consumer life but a life that follows Christ’s example, even in the every day mundane things of life: in the words we say or not say, in the actions we take, in the life we share, in the money we spend. It is a life in which we too give our life away. It is not about what I can squeeze out of it or what others can offer me. A consumer mentality is more about our profit, our gain, our comfort and not about what we give away.
The consumer life is the natural way. The crucified life is the supernatural way.
So as I am confronted with my “consumer self,” I so want to follow a different tune. Each day as I wake up and live life, I have a choice to make. I can tune my heart to a new tune. I can reject the consumer mindset and live for something much better moment by moment.
- First, I must not walk unaware but acknowledge I have a consumer mindset (really it is self-centeredness).
- Second, I must turn from this mindset.
- Third, I need to adopt new habits and ways.
As I tune my heart to be in sync with God’s heart and His ways, I experience the abundant life– the way He defines the full life. I need my heart and mind transformed daily, so that I can walk by faith and be ready to really see people, to have an eternal mindset mindset, and to live for Him who died and rose again on our behalf.
This is a beautiful tune. It is the most fulfilling song I can sing and I don’t want to miss it. To give one’s life away is more lovely, fulfilling and life-giving than any other tune we could ever imagine. And in giving away, we actually gain in the end.