As we approach the most commercialized, consumerist, season of the year, it is appropriate to pause and consider our values once again. Let’s take a quick look at some of the messages given to us by the dominant culture at this time of year:
- buying things will make you happy
- if you buy one thing for someone else you can get a gift card to spend on yourself
- entertainment systems are a necessity
- big, high definition, entertainment systems will make your life better
- buying enough things so that everyone can have their own is only fair
- buying things that allow you to choose your own entertainment options will make you happier
- your home is your sanctuary away from the problems of the world
- stuff will make you sexy
- sexy will sell anything
- houses need to be big enough to keep all of your stuff.
If these are indeed some of the messages heard in the dominant culture (and certainly we could add more), let us ask ourselves, “How many actually make sense to us?” How many of the dominant messages of our culture have become part of our thought processes? Father Richard Rohr has said,
Most Christian ‘believers’ tend to echo the cultural prejudices and worldviews of the dominant group in their country, with only a minority revealing any real transformation of attitudes or consciousness. It has been true of slavery and racism, classism and consumerism, and issues of immigration and health care for the poor. From a religion based on a man who was always healing poor people and foreigners, it defies any logical analysis!1
To what is God calling us? How might we once again become a people who follow a man who healed poor people and foreigners?
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.
Romans 12:1-3 (New Living Translation).