Consumer culture; is wanting things for yourself bad? Is it exploitative of others? How does a Christian interact with consumer culture, to be IN but not OF the world?
As a Christian in the western contemporary world, I’m confronted with society that constantly says “Get new things, better things, more things.”
There’s certainly massive challenge in consumer culture both on the level of salvation and on the level of living to glorify God (Matthew 10:25, 1 Corinthians 3).
At Uni today, we were even talking about how our identity, or sense of self (particularly self-image) has become a commodity; beauty products, cosmetic surgery, self-image, physicality. We want a new, better body, better look, more sex appeal.
In Proverbs we see (helped by Mark Driscoll, in my case) that in accepting Christ we are given a NEW HEART. Behavioural problems, sin, other issues we have are all down stream from that, as it is from the spring of our heart that the rest of our life flows.
In Romans 12, which I read 2 days ago, Paul says we should not conform. but be transformed by the RENEWING of our mind. The ways he describes Christian interaction and use of gifts (commitment, love, humility, fervour, forgiveness and so on) is first established on this premise that we have our minds renewed.
In this case, it’s clear that our very ability to live lives that glorify God is firmly entrenched in the desire for renewal. The desire to be made newer, better, holier, cleaner. Heart and mind? It makes you think that there’s some pretty massive regeneration going on, at the very core of who we are.
There is obviously a desire in our culture for more; history and sin suggest it is a universal, human thing.
John Piper’s philosophy of Christian Hedonism (God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in him), as well as Driscoll’s sermon on the heart (The first for 60in60) come to the same conclusion;
Our desires for more are not a bad thing, if exercised in the right context. A new heart and a new mind are the very things that allow us to see the world in the right way, and the things that allow us to glorify God and honour Him by getting our lives in order. And where do they come from? From God, at his call, by grace.