Monday, June 30, 2014

Consumerism and the Kingdom

About seven years ago, we moved into a new neighborhood. One of the important things we wanted to do right a way was find a grocery store. After visiting each of the candidates in our area, we settled on a Safeway about two miles from our house. For the past seven years, we’ve driven past another store and done our shopping at that Safeway. Why? We like this Safeway better than the QFC. It meets our needs and satisfies some of our wants. Similarly, I’m a Mac guy. I own a MacBook Pro, an iPhone and an iPad. I love the Apple Store and probably always will. Apple meets my needs as a consumer. Yes, I’m a consumer. In our society it’s pretty tough not to be.

I really don’t think that being a consumer is bad when it is confined to such choices as where to purchase groceries or what type of computer to buy. The problem comes when we apply the principles of consumerism to those areas of life that require a completely different approach.
One such area is marriage. Once I am married, I’m off the market. I no longer need look for a better spouse or compare my spouse to others. I’m done looking. I’m committed to my spouse for life. Unfortunately a cursory look at our society will show us that consumerism has deeply entered and impacted how we view and approach marriage and the results are catastrophic.
Likewise, there is no place for consumerism in the Kingdom of God. Not many things make Jesus angry, but the leaders in His time had made the Temple of God into a “marketplace”, bringing on Jesus denunciation and fury. (See John 2:16). Jesus’ Kingdom does not call for consumers, but just the opposite. He calls for “producers”

In Matthew 21:33-43 Jesus tells a story of tenants working in a vineyard. Each time the owner of the vineyard sent representatives to collect his share of the crop; the tenants mistreated them and gave no fruit. Finally the owner sent his son whom the tenants murdered. At the end of the parable, Jesus draws this lesson, “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” (Matthew 21:43 NIV). Jesus was looking for producers, not consumers.

It’s interesting to me that few people even notice the rampant consumerism in the body of Christ today, yet they are so quick to criticize anyone who talks about production. Granted, there are abuses of the concept of producing in the Kingdom and I will talk about them in my next post, but let’s be clear on what Jesus is looking for: “My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings great glory to my Father.” (John 15:7–8 NLT)

1 comment:

  1. Great article...I'm particularly intrigued by the comparison of consumer marriage with the turning the temple into a market place.
    I appreciate deeply the exhortation to be a producer from the parable of Jesus. Being a Nav alum, I cannot turn off the compulsion to be a producer in God's kingdom, however, I often feel internal pushback to let up and just be a "citizen".
    Thanks for your good blog.