The other day my friend said to me, “I notice that you’re always talking about the tragedy of consumerism, and you seem to be deeply disappointed with people treating church as a commodity.”
I said, “Yeah, that’s accurate.”
So then we launched into a conversation about whether or not the Minimalism Movement was the solution to the problem of consumerism. We came to the conclusion that the adoption of robust minimalistic practices and protocols is helpful, but it’s not a wholistic cure for the problem of consumerism.
The cure for consumerism is obsession with Christ.
Obsession with Christ looks like showing up unannounced at Christ’s leadership team meeting, and breaking an entire alabaster flask’s worth of $60k ointment on Jesus as an act of anointing His body for burial. And resolving to know nothing other than Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and always and forever remaining fixated on the crucified King (Hebrews 12:2; Revelation 5:6). Our consumeristic cravings obsessively search and grope for an all-satisfying beauty, goodness, and truth, this is the deep desire driving our compulsive purchasing habits; and this desire will never rest until it rests in Christ.
And it’s not simply that we need a cure for consumerism; we need to reckon with the fact that our sin of consumerism directly contributes to our desperate need for the cure of Christ crucified. The core of consumerism is a rejection of God’s promise; and the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; and this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes!
Obsession with Christ is the marvel of divine mercy. The fight against consumerism is waged and won by stewarding the mystery that God has consigned all to disobedience (e.g. including the sin of consumerism), that He may have mercy on all; and being mesmerized by the unsearchable, inscrutable, and merciful depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
And for the person obsessed with Christ there is freedom to used funds for friend-making (see Luke 16:9), rather than the accumulation of amazon acquisitions!
Finally, here’s a ditty from David Bentley Hart about consumerism…
“Late modern society is principally concerned with purchasing things, in ever greater abundance and variety, and so has to strive to fabricate an ever greater number of desires to gratify, and to abolish as many limits and prohibitions upon desire as it can. Such a society is already implicitly atheist and so must slowly but relentlessly apply itself to the dissolution of transcendent values. It cannot allow ultimate goods to distract us from proximate goods. Our sacred writ is advertising, our piety is shopping, our highest devotion is private choice. God and the soul too often hinder the purely acquisitive longings upon which the market depends, and confront us with values that stand in stark rivalry to the only truly substantial value at the center of the social universe: the price tag.”― David Bentley Hart, “The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss”