“Consumerism only exists where it’s allowed to.” –Hugh Halter
Today in America it is “Black Friday”. The day after Thanksgiving when all hell breaks loose and people go nuts for a deal. What’s odd to me is that around this time of year, people of faith, get totally up in arms about whether or not they should shop on Black Friday, whether or not they should do presents for their kids, and whether or not they should celebrate an expectation of Santa Clause.
The recent history of Black Friday has definitely left a sour taste in many people’s mouths, for sure. But is it wrong? Are Jesus and Santa really at odds here, or is there something deeper going on?
I think it’s necessary for us to focus on the real reason behind the concern that so many people have about all of these controversial subjects. Maybe then we can peel back a layer or two behind the Santa vs Jesus debate and get to the soul of the matter.
One word: Consumerism.
Today three observations about Consumerism will help us peel back the layers on this debate and help us sift through a solution to our dilemma.
- Consumerism is the religion of our day. The idol of American Culture is, without a doubt, the obtaining of material possessions in order to acquire power, comfort, or approval. We bow at the altar of the checkout scanner. We swoon at the wisp of a percentage off deal. We feed out of the trough of what our advertisers present to us. The center of our worship becomes our own selves and we are addicted to the satisfaction we get out of this religious fervor.
- Consumerism pits the rich against the poor. Our inability to discipline ourselves for a moment by not purchasing, not charging, and not giving in to consumerism has created an environment in our nation where we voluntarily submit ourselves to those who would use us as a commodity for their own personal gain. In turn, we view human beings as commodities from which we can extract whatever goods or services we want out of them. The poor get poorer and the rich get richer.
- Consumerism breeds selfishness. The resulting consequence of living in a culture that values self over all other things is that it breeds self-serving, self-righteous, and self-promoting people. You can hardly turn on the television without watching advertisers offer slick presentations to convince you that you need something that is really only a want. If you’re not watching advertisers, then you’re probably watching the news and this is really no different. All in the name of being “informed” and/or “entertained” we allow the culture we live in to suck the life out of us and we do it willfully and with a smile on our face.
HOW DO WE STOP?
I love the quote by Hugh Halter at the top. “Consumerism only exists where it’s allowed to.”
So how do we not allow it to exist in us as individuals? as families? as communities? Well, I think the answers are more simple than you may think. Here are three responses I think you should consider.
- Confession. This is an age old idea, but I believe it still works. We have to admit that we have a problem, and stop doing it. Confession results in repentance (a turning away from the wrong and towards the right that we know to do), and repentance results in true faith.
- Balance. For the record, Jesus and Santa are not at odds. The spirit of generosity, love, compassion, giving, and even receiving are all good things. What we need is not less of Santa and more of Jesus, but more balance regarding the value we give to what we celebrate during the holiday season. The proper place for Santa is under the umbrella of Christmas celebration, not as the main character, but as a character who points people to Jesus. Santa isn’t Satan (as the SNL Church lady suggests).
- Grace. Finally, battling consumerism is going to require us to accept that we aren’t always going to get it right. We must accept that and move forward in grace. Shopping isn’t evil. Doing Santa with your kids isn’t going to confuse them. What will confuse them is parents who don’t communicate, value, or celebrate Jesus during this time of year.
This needs to be a continual conversation. We are all learning here. How do you struggle finding that balance? What can we begin doing this Christmas season that will help bring back the reminders of why we celebrate at this time of year?
I have a new resource that I created to help with this very thing. It is a devotional plan called “The Advent Plan”. Using the age old tradition of an advent wreath, I offer this resource to help you plan out with your family a weekly lighting of the advent wreath and some devotional thoughts and discussion questions to help you celebrate the coming of Jesus at Christmas.
You can get this free resource by simply subscribing to this blog. Put your name and email address in the box below and you will receive an email requesting your confirmation. Once you confirm your subscription, a link will be sent to you where you can download THE ADVENT PLAN for free.
Please share this with as many people as you believe it will help. Thanks for following soulstuck.com. Merry Christmas!