We live in a culture that is driven by a consumer mentality. We value those things that in some way bring us gratification, normally on a personal level. It doesn’t seem to matter that the good feeling may only be temporary, we still want it. The greater and more instantaneous the enjoyment the greater the value we place on it. Unfortunately this mind-set has crept into the church in America (and I suspect in other cultures as well). Christianity has become a commodity – something to be used for our benefit.
Think about the questions that most of us struggle with: Why doesn’t God answer my prayers? Where is God when I need Him? Is God really there for me? Why did God allow that to happen in my life? Our questions are more about us than they are about God. They revolve around what benefits me rather than what benefits God.
One place that Christianity-as-a commodity is often seen is when people leave one church for another. How many times have you heard people say that they changed churches because they didn’t get anything out of the service (in their old church)? Or because they wanted a church that meets my needs (nothing wrong with going to a church that meets your needs – you just need to keep that issue in the right place on your list of priorities). The point is that it’s all about what gratifies me. There are other areas of the Christian life where our consumerism is equally noticeable.
At the core of this consumer mentality is the unspoken thought: What has God done for me lately? None of us would verbalize the thought, but it’s there never-the-less. We have become the center of our own universe and God is on the outside looking in. We want to see benefits from our faith now.
But what if you never experienced another answer to prayer? Would you still pray? What if God remained hidden and you never understood His will? Would you remain faithful? What if God did not intercede and the worst things in life happened to you? Would you still trust Him with your life? That’s real Christianity; praying when there are no answers; being faithful when you can’t see the way; trusting when life is crashing down around you.
Our faith is not only (I want to say primarily) for our benefit – it is for God’s. The Apostle Paul addressed this in the book of Romans when he told us that God saved us in order to make known the riches of His glory to the world and that Christians are vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory. For whose glory? Ultimately for His glory (Romans 9:23).
The practical application is that Christianity is not about us, it’s about God and what He is doing. And as God builds His kingdom grace spills over on us to our benefit. The more we focus on God and make our lives about Him, the more we benefit from this relationship. Don’t let the consumer mentality of our culture shape your faith. Instead be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).
Stay in the Word