September 26, 2006

Consumer Christianity

Here is an interesting article at Christianity

I guess the question, for me, goes back to how does the church exist in a consumeristic, choice-driven culture without submitting to that culture?

There was a time when a person went to church in their "parish." The church was local, and the people were part of the neighborhood. But now, the average distance is 15-20 minutes away for most churches. In some areas, a person can pass 15-20 different churches on their way to their church.

We have turned Jesus into a commodity. Discipleship is placed in the same time frame as a fast-food restaurant. We go to church where WE feel comfortable. I don't think that it is always wrong because there are some unhealthy "faith" communities.

This article serves to remind me that God is not a product to simply be chosen. Jesus died and bids us come and die. We die to our selfish desires. We die to our anger, hatred, bitterness, unforgiving spirit, self-seeking ways. Being part of a local church is more than choosing the right place, it is a committment to a group of people.

Here are some thought provoking quotes from the article:

"Being fully formed in a consumer worldview, Greg and Margaret intuitively accepted that the personal enrichment and fulfillment of desire is the highest good. As a result, they chose the church that best satisfied their family's preferences without bothering to consult their community, the Bible, or the Holy Spirit to gauge the legitimacy of those desires. After all, in consumerism a desire is never illegitimate, it is only unmet."

"Today, according to The New York Times, each American is exposed to 3,500 desire-inducing advertisements every day promising us that satisfaction is just one more purchase away." (I find this interesting as the website where the article is located has advertisements flashing all over the place!)

" Consumers demand options, but this poses a problem. Formation into the likeness of Christ is not accomplished by always getting what we want. In ages past, choice was not heralded as a Christian's right. In fact, relinquishing our choices by submitting to a spiritual mentor or community was prerequisite to growth in Christ. Believers were guided through formative and corrective disciplines—most being activities we would never choose if left to our desires. But surrendering control ensured we received what we needed to mature in Christ, not simply what we wanted."

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