Consumerism is a social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts.
Our church had a gift day this Sunday, as gift days go it was a bit of a barn-stormer. The amazing thing is that most of it is going to be given away, beyond the normal running of our church life. Even as we have been processing the gift decisions have been made to pay for the apprenticeship of a young Zambian who wants to become a pharmacist.
The cultural backdrop we face in the UK is consumerism. We joked on Sunday about the ubiquitous demands our society makes on us to consume more and more, to put ‘things’ on the need list that are actually, firmly, on the want list.
Adverts are the sharp edge of consumerism’s evangelical zeal.
Probably the cleverest adverts sell us things we already get for free – water is the most obvious of these.
I wonder if future generations will marvel at our willingness to pay enormous sums for water which comes, free, from the taps.
I guess the message must be – What you already have isn’t good enough – and therefore:
- you need this
- your life isn’t complete without this
- you’re house isn’t really clean without this
- you can’t be cool without this
- you’ll be a better mother if your kids eat this
- you’ll look sophisticated if you drink this
- you’ll be comfortable if you have this
- you’ll be happy if you smell like this
- people will want to have sex with you if you own this
It is a lie… it doesn’t deliver…. it only serves it’s self
Jesus told this story
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop.17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21 “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”
Luke 12 v 13-21
Next time we’ll look at being rich towards God.