I will be the first to admit to it… I’m a bit of a Scrooge.
It takes quite a bit of motivating to get me in the Christmas spirit. Not that I don’t love Christmas…it just takes me a while longer.
I don’t like that the official start of the Christmas season is called “Black Friday.” Way too ominous. I don’t plan Christmas lists in advance; I absolutely detest going to the mall at Christmastime. I put off my shopping until I can’t any longer. Yes folks… I am the guy that begins his Christmas shopping on December 24th. (That’s even too late for Amazon!)
It’s not that there’s no time…we all know that the stores are stocked with Christmas joy by September. It’s just that I am wary of all this consumerism.
We are overwhelmed, especially this time of year, with the same message: That what we want is what we need. And what we need is the latest, greatest, newest thing. We are constantly told that all of our hopes and dreams will be fulfilled, that our lives will be easier, and that satisfaction we so desperately crave will be found in the things we buy. And because it’s Christmas, we deserve it!
Unlike any other time in history, our culture is known for its consuming. We are more affluent than at any other time in history. We have more disposable income, disposable time, and so many THINGS at our disposal. And because of the time in which we live, there are so many options afforded to us that were previously unavailable.
We have become a people who acquire, use up, and throw away. We consume what we want and move on to the next thing. And not just things, we do the same thing with people. In many cases, our relationships tend to be disposable, discarding them for the next big thing and newer model. This consumer thinking permeates and impacts all aspects of our lives, not just our purchasing and finances, but our relationships as well.
As Christians, we are not immune to a culture of consumerism. I think we have fallen prey to it. We have in some ways even made Jesus a commodity. We have our own T-shirts, and our own stores. Worship has ceased to be a lifestyle and has been relegated to just another genre of music. We have embraced terms like “Mega” and “Ultra” and aspired to be the biggest and best. We begin to see the church as some sort of huge buffet line: we pick and choose the music, preaching, programs, even Scripture that we like. We pick through the aspects of God that are comfortable and entertaining, and leave behind the hard things we don’t like—service, sacrifice, and giving.
But I wonder if God is up in heaven, looking down at us poor souls consuming everything we can get our hands on, and yelling “STOP!…ENOUGH!!”
I believe that God is not into consumers—I am convinced He is into CONSUMING.
The writer of Hebrews, in Chapter 12, describes God as a consuming fire… looking to consume His people. God is looking for people who are willing to be burned up—used up. People who will surrender everything they are to all of Him, as a response to who Jesus is and what He’s done for them.
I believe God is looking for people who are so transformed and conformed to God’s heart that they are willing to do anything He asks—any way He wants. Paul describes this perfectly in II Timothy 4, when he describes his life as being “…Poured out like a drink offering…”
I believe that God is looking for people to “pour out” on a hurting world. He is not concerned with people who pick and choose churches, Sunday schools, and Bible studies based on what we “get out” of them. He is not concerned with people who pick and choose all the comfortable parts of Christianity and discard the rest.
He is looking for people who are in it for Him, willing to leave it all on His table for His taking. God is searching for an extravagant response like the sinner who lay at Jesus feet in Luke 7:36. That is the difference between a consumer lifestyle and a consumed lifestyle.
Christmas is the time when we celebrate the birth of a man who was born to be consumed by God. To be “poured out” and “used up” for our sins. How I respond to that in the midst of a world that champions the opposite is what I am trying to learn this Christmas.
And I bet when I grasp that truth I will be Scrooge no more!
Director of Student Ministries