by Connor Kerr, Resonate Pullman member
Consumerism needs no introduction to my American audience. Focusing on material goods is where so many of us find ourselves each December. Maybe you have had an aunt trampled by a stampede of coupon-wielding Black Friday shoppers. Perhaps your best friend just got the new iPhone, which will allow them to pull up their student loan debt at lightning speeds. Our worship of things is distracting us from our mission, and the true purpose of Christmas.
Christians can find a way to justify any purchase in the name of staying culturally engaged, which leads to churches full of spiritually dead people with great jeans and trendy apartments. If we use our money primarily to decorate our homes and invest in material goods, then how are we any different from the world? We must ask ourselves as people on a direct mission from our Creator: in what way does my life look radically different from everyone else around me?
“Who, being in very nature God,did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Philippians 2:6-7
Christmas marks the point in human history where God entered into the world in the flesh to save lost souls. Christ had a mission; To live his life as a servant, giving up all luxury and heavenly comfort to pursue a goal that is eternal. The ramification of Christmas on Christians is that we now follow Christ in giving up our lives to become servants. Building your life around that which is material is self serving, while giving up your life for the Gospel is selfless.
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39
How then do we structure Christmas? Do we insulate our families and exchange headphones and candy? Perhaps the birth of Christ should be celebrated by remembering who he was and what he did.
Knowing he only had 33 years to live, Jesus spent his time washing people's dirty feet, and giving hope to broken and lost people. Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28), we must also live sacrificially.
The thing we must understand is that once we give up the worldly comfort of consumerism, God can use us to do great things. It’s almost like these things that claim to make life easier are actually ankle weights, and once we free ourselves from their grip, we are able to run the race God has for us. God wants to transform you through a life lived out to the fullest.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1
Advent is a great time to refocus our life, to reflect on who God is, and ask how we as a church are fulfilling our purpose. Consider the following questions and ask God to rid you of selfishness:
Do I look any different from the world around me?
Do I prioritize my childhood rituals over God's purpose for Christmas?
Am I using the holiday season to talk to people about who Jesus is?
Where am I being a consumer in my church, rather than a servant?
Am I using Christmas to teach my kids to be consumers?
What am I willing to sacrifice for the betterment of a neighbor?
Would my bank statement reflect a life lived for the Gospel or a life lived for myself?
Material possessions are not evil in themselves, but orienting our lives around earthly things does not help our mission as Christians.
When you leave this earth I can pretty much guarantee that at your funeral, friends and family will not be talking about your possessions, but rather the relationships you shared. Jesus invested his life in the people around Him. This Christmas season, what if we honored his life by living out the mission he gave us?
Imagine a community of believers putting the needs of their city as number one on their shopping list this Christmas.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19-20