Avoiding the Christian Consumerism Trap

Posted: July 10, 2015 in Uncategorized
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In the most recent issue of Sojourners Magazine Stephen Mattson penned an article that connects cultural consumerism with its shadow in the church. Of course, people in churches are part and parcel of their culture like everyone else. Though we hope that Christian convictions will rise above the prevailing mores of the herd that is often not the case.

If we are not careful we church people start to act like the consumers we’ve been shaped to be; everything is about me, the customer is always right, I demand my products, my preferences, my happiness. When that attitude takes over then I feel entitled to demand that my every need be met. I’m a consumer and the church is the provider. My mantras are “I want” and “I deserve.”

As Mattson puts it:

“Throughout our lives we’ve been told as consumers that we’re the center of attention, that we’re the most important, and that we should look after ourselves first and foremost.

Contrarily, Jesus instructs us to do the exact opposite: to prioritize others first.

Instead, try giving. Try sacrificing, serving, helping, protecting, helping, creating, and loving. Although these character traits are increasingly rare and devalued, they are what Christ-followers are meant to do.

Be a contributor.”

What he does not say in the article is that consumerism manifests itself most in the church through a certain attitude of possessiveness toward the church itself: It is mine. When I understand myself as a religious consumer I not only want the church to deliver my religious product the way I want it, I view the church as my possession. I believe that I own the church. As such I believe I have the right to control it to get what I want. It is a possession rather than a living community. It is mine and not God’s.

The way of discipleship is narrow, hard and requires much. The way of the Christian consumerism is wide and leads not to God but back to a self that is never satisfied. And blessed is the one who knows the difference between the two.

  1. Lee says:

    I recently advised a cousin suffering from the anxiety and stress brought on by self-obsession that the best treatment I knew for her ailment was to find a church she could love and volunteer.
    You have hit the nail of pseudo “selfish consumerism Christianity” square on the head!

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