I have been reading Brennan Manning’s book, The Signature of Jesus and I have to say that I love it. I was reading a part this morning “to be in the world but not of the world”, which seems to be a phrase thrown around a lot in church and sermons, implying that a Christian is not influenced and intimidated by the values of our American culture. The message of Jesus is about as polar opposite to the American Dream as you can get.  We pursue the American Dream like it is the ultimate attainment.  To have it all, good paying job that enables us to buy any gadget or gizmo that we could imagine. To have it all, all the things we could dream of that will bring us happiness. When you really think about it trying to live counter to the American Dream, it is really hard to do, but yet as Christians, we are called to do this. Everything in our immediate surroundings says “buy me”, “if only I had…” and “I want…” Our culture is dominated by consumerism and when I take a moment to think about it, I get really mad. I’m mad that TV shows and websites have turned into advertising overload-there’s no content anymore, just commercials. I’m mad that I fall into these traps. I feel like I need things that I don’t really need all the time. If only I had…that pair of jeans, whiter teeth, a new car.  We’re programmed to be consumers. I hate it. Jesus calls us to a life of simplicity and service to others yet everything around us points towards wealth, domination and pleasure. Brennen Manning asks the question, 

 “Are we people of God in the world but not of the world? Or are we more capitalistic than Christian?…Let us be bold enough to ask ourselves, as Christians, whether the church of the Lord Jesus in the United States has anything to say to our nation and it’s ideologies of materialism, possessiveness and the worship of financial security. Are we courageous enough to be a sign of contradiction to consumerism through living faith in Jesus?…Or have we so accommodated the faith of our fathers to consumption that the question of simplicity of life, sharing of resources, and radical dependence on God’s providence no longer seems relevant?” 

I love this quote. It’s convicting. I need to take moments to step back and look at my faith and look at the life I am living and compare the two often. Am I living out my faith? Am I living in this world but not of this world?  I like to imagine what life in America would be life if everyone lived out their faith in this way. My guess is that it would look much more like the world that God envisioned when he created the heavens and the earth. “Simplicity of life, sharing of resources, radical dependence on God’s providence”, that’s what it’s about.   Well that is my little rant on consumerism and faith. I’m working on it in my own life. It ain’t easy, but I would much rather have the richness and simplicity of life that Jesus calls us to than the material things of this world that leave me feeling empty. I get worked up thinking about these things that should be and the reality so I apologize for my negative nancy attitude. Often times, I just need a moment to get it out and then think about the hope of the situation. So thank you for my much needed a moment on my soap box. I’ll step down now and chew on these words for a while.

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