Consumerism is a mindset that is pervasive in our culture. Many times, unfortunately, it makes its way into the church. Instead of “having this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus”, many people consistently “look out for their own interests” instead of the interests of others.
Often, consumerism in the church shows up when we treat the church as a restaurant instead of a family. When we go to a restaurant, we expect to be served by the wait staff, for the food to be cooked just to our liking, our glasses filled all the time, and absolutely no wrong orders or mess ups. We order what we want, and if we don’t like it, we complain to the manager and refuse to give a tip (in most cases). And, that may be the proper way to view a restaurant, but not the church, not the body of Christ.
With family, it’s different. Everyone in the family is important and is expected to contribute to the total well-being of the family. It’s about give and take. It’s about “looking out for others’ interests and not our own.” It’s about serving each other for their good. It’s about sacrificing for each other. It’s about what is good and healthy and right for the whole family—not just one individual. The whole family—the whole church body—looking out for each other, serving each other, sacrificing for each other, esteeming others as more important than ourselves.
At the heart of consumerism in the church is self-centeredness and the perversion of the American Dream that says, “I have the right to my life, my liberty, my pursuit of my happiness in the church” regardless of others’ needs and interests. Jesus said that finding our life would be losing it and losing our life for his sake would be where we would truly find it.
At the root of this heart attitude ultimately is idolatry. The idol? Self. It becomes all about our preferences, and making sure our wants are met—at the expense and to the exclusion of others.
How do we view the church—a restaurant or a family?