Practical Christian Living – From Consumerism to Contentment

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Icebreaker: What would have been your favorite thing about living in the Garden of Eden?

Last week we talked about sin in the garden and how the serpent tried to challenge God’s command not to eat fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Satan was substituting God’s way with an alternative that, although sounded good and pleasing, in the end resulted in emptiness and death. God had all their needs taken care of but Satan convinced them that what God had provided was not enough—they needed more.

That is the message of the world—Consumerism. Why does consumerism breed dissatisfaction?

·You feel like you never have enough. There is always something bigger and better you can buy.

Consumerism can become an entire worldview—something that effects the way we see everything. Because of that we have to address this early in our study because many of the other things we study are problems because people have developed a consumer mindset that has taken the place of God in their lives. In other words, when this has fully taken root, we begin believing that the world can meet our needs instead of God. But like Adam and Eve the end result will be emptiness and even death.

How does the world bombard us with the message that what we have is never enough?

· Advertisements, trends, movies, television, internet, etc.

How was the Garden of Eden before sin entered the picture?

· It was a perfect existence between God and mankind.

· They should have been satisfied—all their basic needs were met.

The Bible makes very clear that God is the one who supplies our needs. Because of that we should be content.

Phil 4:19 

How many of your needs did Paul say God will meet?

· All

What is the difference between a want and a need?

· A want is something that is non-essential for the continuance of living life as a whole person. A need is something that only God can provide that is essential for life and spiritual development.

· Paul didn’t say God will meet all your wants. Paul said God will give you what you really need.

What does the world tell us we really need?

· Definitely not God—they say God will mess you up or that God is out to get you or that he doesn’t exist.

· The world says we need stuff. Once you get enough stuff you will be satisfied.

· The world says we need love and acceptance—the difference is how you go about finding it.

Matthew 6:28-34

The world says if you don’t have what you want you better worry until you get it. What does God say about worry? Why?

· Don’t worry—God will provide what you really need.

Jesus shifts the priority from chasing some really important things (food and clothing) to something of even greater importance. What does Jesus say is the most important thing to seek out?

· A relationship with God

What does Jesus say will follow if we make God our priority?

· The things we really need will be provided in addition to the greatest thing—a relationship with God.

Back to the way the world looks at this. The world says if you want clothes you chase clothes. If you want food you chase food. If you want stuff you better chase it yourself because no one else is going to do it for you. And don’t chase just anything. Only the best is worth your attention. Following that line of thinking to the end makes stuff our “lord” instead of God. Stuff begins to rule our lives and we end up on an endless pursuit of things that will make us seem important or “somebody.”

Gen 1:26-27

Where does scripture say our value is found?

· Our value rests in our relationship with God. We are made in his image and that makes us valuable.

What does it take for the world to say you are valuable?

· If you have the right income, job, clothes, cars, appearance, etc.

· In other words, you don’t have any inherent value apart from your things.

Consumerism robs us of who we are and it steals away from us a healthy view of others. Instead of seeing others for who God made them to be we start seeing others for how they can benefit us, how they can help our cash flow, buy our product, compliment us, etc.

Moving from Consumerism to Contentment:

Philippians 4:11-13 shows us that contentment does not come from filling ourselves with stuff. Contentment is not based on circumstances or a series of good purchases. Contentment comes from resting in the fact that we have value that comes from God and that through God our needs will be met.

What are some things in your life you feel get in the way of seeing God and others in a healthy way?

What are the necessary steps it will take for you to find contentment in God alone?

Ripening Issues in the Church of Christ – Dissatisfaction with Worship

gulfcoastgetaway.jpgOne of the predominant messages of Gulfcoast Getaway 2008 was that our college students are dissatisfied with worship in their local congregations. The root cause of this is believed to be an aging leadership with a different taste for worship, song selection, and atmosphere. Pair that with high octane instrumental Christian music on the radio and a society that says everything should be about getting you what you want (consumerism) and you end up with a clash of the generations and dissatisfied young people.

Expectation of Meaningful Worship:

The word that comes to mind that sums all of that up is expectations. The older generation expects “meaningful worship” = “worship in line with tradition” and the younger generation expects “meaningful worship” = “worship in line with a meaningful experience and relationship with God.” Both are really after the same thing – to have their expectation of meaningful worship met. The problem is the generations don’t define meaningful worship the same way. Another problem is that for the longest time people have equated “meaningful worship” with song selection and that is just not the case. That can be a small part of it but it is not the whole. The outgrowth of that kind of thinking is, “If they will just sing the songs I like then worship will be meaningful.” Song selection is a symptom of a much larger systemic problem and not the problem itself. Treating this as a song selection issue puts all the blame on one side of the problem when in fact both sides make contributions to the problem, therefore, both sides must contribute to the answer.

The lens of love:

What is the answer? The answer comes from how we view each other and whether or not we see each other in a Christ-like fashion. The Corinthians had a “worship war.” They were each coming to get their way, do their thing, and everyone else better get out of the way because, afterall, they are not as important as I am…” After discussing the problem in 1 Cor 11-12 what solution did Paul give them in chapter 13? Love. When we view each other through the lens of love we will no longer see worship as “us against them” or “my needs vs. their needs” or “my songs vs. their songs.” When either side thinks, “my way is the ONLY way to worship in a meaningful way” we have left love out and put selfishness and arrogance in its place.

Mutual submission and respect:

Once we start with love the next move is toward mutual submission. Remember what Paul said in Ephesians 5:21ff? Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ...For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ…”

What is Paul saying here? He is saying that Christ has unified us as head of his church/the body as its savior. Notice Paul didn’t say “our church” but “his church.” We know whose we are. Our commonality as the saved body of Christ should result in mutual submission to each other but first and foremost to Christ. The blame for this problem does not comes from one side alone. It is not an “old person problem.” Both sides need to approach each other out of mutual submission and with attitudes of love and respect. When that happens the older generation won’t feel like they have “lost” when new songs are sung or a newer translation is read and that they have won when things go their way. The same with the younger generation thinking they have “won” when the new songs are sung and “lost” when the old songs are sung. Winning and losing implies we are on different teams! Paul says mutual submission starts with the recognition of who Jesus is as the unifying force and head of the church.

I look forward to the day young people understand their need to respect and appreciate the shoulders they stand on so much that they can sing “Night with ebon pinion” with a smile on their faces. I look forward to the day older people can sing “The Heart of Worship” with tears in their eyes. I look forward to the day when the younger people will learn and grow from the dedication of our older members and the older members will dig deeper in experiencing God because they see how it has impacted the young people. This is not pie in the sky and I am sure it is already happening in many places. Let’s throw away the us vs. them mentality and come back to the table out of attitudes of love, mutual submission and respect. And let’s remember who sits at the head of the table reminding us that he didn’t get his way all of time either, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42).


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