I don’t think I’m done with this yet. I talked a bunch about how consumerism has so infected the church that now we think it’s normal to think like a consumerist and follow Jesus. I think the same, at least for us here in the west, goes for materialism.
One stat till haunts me.
“It is quite astounding that although Protestant and Catholic churches have raised – and spent – close to one trillion dollars on domestic ministry during the past two decades, there has been no measurable increase in one of the expressed purposes of the church: to lead people to Christ and have them commit their lives to Him.”
Barna, George and The Barna Group The State of the Church: 2005, Copyright © 2005 by George Barna and The Barna Group, 1957 Eastman Avenue, Ventura, CA 93003
Yes, I think a large part of this is because of consumerism I also think these problems can be equally related to materialism. Yes, I also think they are very much related but also have very much of a different expression when allowed to grow to where it is now. Consumerism (these are in my own understanding) seems to be a constant need of more and having collections of nothing but more. While materialism (which may very well be the root of consumerism) seems to be more the need of depending on stuff in the first place. It is remarkable how much value we place on things and stuff.
It is very important for us as followers of Jesus to keep an eye on what we value. You can walk into most churches and within five minutes understand their values (no matter what it says on there website). Some churches value parking lots, roofs, building projects, alpha programs and others value community, preaching, singing and others value discussion, freedom and the list goes on. There are many non-material values that are harmful, but I think as soon as we start to value the material things of life, we begin to devalue the opposite; those being relationships, emotions and worship. Why have we spent so much money in church lately with no sign of increase? Because most of that money went to materials to help us in our ministry, most of that money went to material of some sort that eventually fades away and dies.
Materials need to take a place in our life properly, not in front of Jesus. We do not need to get ‘ahead in life’ before we start living for Jesus. We don’t have to have our two cars, in our two car garage and that camera we want with the sick computer to edit the photos before we start living for Jesus. It’s easy to say, we all say this and most have stopped reading by now because its cliché. But I don’t think we actually do this. Most of us are thinking about ourselves most of the time. If you asked yourself honestly, when have you ever saved up money to buy something for someone else? I can’t even think of one time that I have done that. I can’t think of one time that I had even remotely the same desire to buy something for someone else as I have for myself. I’m selfish. I think we all can probably say that.
This is why, now its ok two be rich and be a Christian. It’s why the prosperity gospel exists. It’s why Christians can live in wealth with lots of spare bedrooms, food going bad because it’s not eaten and an extra car in the driveway all day long and not think twice about it. Materialism comes first, then we follow Jesus. Materialism really is our God know. We depend on the stuff we can provide for ourselves to bring us health (health plans), comfort (luxury living), security (rrsps), happiness (entertainment)….why do we need Jesus anymore? We don’t even need the stuff about Jesus telling us not to worry about tomorrow. Worry about tomorrow? That is a joke to us. Afterall we have got enough stuff to last us till the day we die. We’ve got our lives perfectly set with all our stuff to fill in all the blanks that Jesus was meant to fill. So what does Jesus become? Just one more thing to add to our list of things. So don’t worry Jesus, we won’t worry about tomorrow, we’ve taken care of it already.