I first noticed it and began to understand it when we arrived home from our first trip to Ethiopia in January of 2011. I had been to a culture that wasn't driven by it, and it opened my eyes to my culture which is. Consumerism. We live in a country who is consumed with consuming. It has infiltrated our homes, our churches, our hearts, our lives - and our souls. Everything around us is positioned to help our wants, lusts, and desires to be met and to be met quickly before the next desire surfaces. We grasp for more and better and bigger, and we consume until we are bloated, lethargic shells of what we were created to be. Because it is all futile, fake, and fleeting, and it is never, ever enough. We can point fingers and say it is the world and those without Jesus who have fallen victim, but I dare say that the Church - the Bride - has swallowed consumerism hook, line, and sinker. I will go as far to even say we have amplified it. We cater to the needs of the saved rather then pouring our lives into making disciples. We are afraid to rock the boat - afraid to disgruntle that person who puts a fat check in the plate each Sunday. We grasp for bigger churches, better programs, flashier music, fuller offering plates, brighter billboards and advertisements that have so little to do with Jesus, and in return we exchange our souls for consumerism rather than the abundant life we were promised. Abundant life and consumerism cannot coexist. We sit on our bottoms on plush pews and complain about "not being fed" and "the contemporary music" or "the outdated hymns" and "the teenager worshiping in ripped jeans". We desire comfort and for it to be done "our way" to "our preference", and all the while the world around is dieing to know our Jesus and to know that His followers really are different.
But are we?
Are we really different? Are we really disciples of Jesus? If we attract people to our churches using consumerism, then the only way to keep them there is with consumerism. Or else they will just move on to the church down the road that will meet their needs and desires, and the nasty cycle spirals out of control. I look at the life of Jesus and study His Good News, and this consumerism that we have become enchanted with, is not found there. It is actually antithetical to the invitation that Jesus gives us to follow Him and to spread the news of His Kingdom and His Good News. It is antithetical to Jesus' Gospel. This consumerism is contrary to the teachings of Jesus, the One who beckoned us to deny ourselves and lose our lives in order to find them.
It seems to me in getting sucked into this pit of consumerism we have traded Jesus for a product - a product that has fed and encouraged consumerism not true discipleship. A product that has just become a band aid, a facade, a mask - offering no real hope or change - because so little in us is changed. I want to erase the marketing, the product that I have helped to create, because I am so much a part of this problem. I want to tear off the band aid and replace it with His healing. I want to rip down the masks and walls and expose the imperfections that show off His perfectness.I want to fight the consumerism and my personal desires and comfort, and strip it all away to Jesus. I want to fall in love with Jesus again - or maybe really for the first time. I want to serve Him, love Him, and make much of Him. And when the programs are not flashy enough, when the offering plates are a little less full, and the music isn't my taste, when the sermon didn't resonate with me like I had hoped it would, and when people let me down, I want to know that all that matters in this world and in the Church is Jesus. I want to be captivated by Jesus, not by the video feed on Sunday morning, or the praise and worship band, or the promise of another Bible study and better coffee. I want to know the abundant life that repels consumerism and looks so counter-cultural to those on the outside looking in. I want a part in reclaiming the Bride and breathing fresh life into her. Mostly, I want to know Jesus.
And Jesus is enough. Because nothing - nothing else ever will be.