Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: Christmas, Christians, and Consumerism

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas, Christians, and Consumerism

We all know that Christmas is dominated by a consumer, commercial mind-set. Charlie Brown was dealing with this issue 43 years ago (and every year since in fact!). How are Christians to deal with the potential addiction to consumerism during the Christmas season? This question was emailed to me by a strong leader in my church, so that is the topic for this Lair post.

First, Christians should not make the mistake of identifying with a proof-text agenda. Reading Matthew 6:9, "do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth", can easily be a battle cry against any kind of consumerism during Christmas or planning ahead for financial stability. Such a reading fails to consider the entire canon of Scripture where the emphasis rests on what motivates us in life rather than an outright prohibition against anything that could be construed as materialistic. In fact, Christ goes on to say that "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." This is why John Piper likes to add the word "treasure" to the common evangelical phrase of "ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior." Piper prefers "your treasure."

Second, Christians need to realize that an addiction to consumerism is a result of a fallen humanity. This isn't simply a Christmas struggle. Year round we are tempted with the desire to have more, granted, this is heightened during the holidays. The human tendency to want more is grounded in the motive of original sin itself. How did the serpent convince Eve to take and eat the fruit? He convinced her that she could have more. Therefore, this problem, like all other sin that plaques humanity, is only conquered by the power of Christ who has defeated sin on the cross. The pattern should, I hope, be familiar for us. Recognition, repentance, and dependence. We recognize the issue of sin in our lives, we repent (turn), and depend on God to deliver us from the tempter.

Finally, it's fun to buy stuff at Christmas! For me, the desire to buy during Christmas is typically driven by the joy I receive of giving the gift to a loved one and watching them open it. So, we should not be about the business of completely killing the desire to purchase and give. Rather, we need to be sensible and ask ourselves, "where is my treasure?" If we find it to be anything other than Christ and him crucified, then it's time for a heart to heart with God. Trust me, he will listen.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for adding some pesrpective to this topic beyond our email exchange, and noting that the pull of consumerism goes beyond this season. Your connection of the original sin to consumerism is right on, and oe that i had not really thought of before.

December 11, 2007 12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree; the connection to original sin is not one I have thought of before. Thank you for your thoughts.

By the way, your new website looks wonderful.


December 11, 2007 1:03 PM  

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