Two nights ago, I stayed up to watch a documentary entitled, "What Would Jesus Buy?" As far as documentaries go, I have seen a bundle and this one was ok... It follows an actor who plays a fire-and-brimstone, southern white pastor who leads a choir across the nation at Christmastide to protest mass consumerism. The message of anti-consumerism was great but the delivery seemed all over the place in what was being viewed. They wanted to show the cause but also the humanity of feeling like one was not making a difference and the obstacles that get in the way. For an hour and a half film, I assumed it would be more focused in its attempt.
As far as the anti-consumerist message, I loved it. It wasn't a bunch of people who seemed like their hearts were going to fall out of their chest if they didn't get their way. The parody and comedy proved to be a marvelous rebel tool, as it has for a long time now. But I think we forget how good it works. Reverend Billy goes into businesses, malls, Starbucks and finds a way to be as ridiculous as possible to bring attention to the cause often times leading to an arrest. There is no vandalism or anything of that nature, just good old fashioned being loud, noisy, and showy (which seems to parody Christian political movements, of the right, in the last few decades perfectly). BTW, he is banned from every California Starbucks...
The thing that most struck me was that in the guise of this, the sincerity of it all played out well. These people genuinely wanted you to know that they thought this unhealthy over-consumption was detestable, we were trapped AND that there was a better way; they just wanted to sing about in carol form.
Are they right? Of course!!! Jesus himself said that wealth was deceitful (Matthew 13:22) and so much more about wealth. But the story that most is applicable, for me, from Jesus' mouth is about the cup. You see, Jesus was hanging out with some religious leaders of the day, which he had no patience for, and they began to question him and what he thought. Well, he laid into them very hard and what he said to them is applicable to us (but I assume it would be much more grace-filled). He said, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean" (Matthew 22:25 & 26). Our consumption is just the symptom of the things inside us not being want we want or fulfilled. We want good but we don't have it and so try and fill it. It quickly turns into self-indulgence because we are just looking to what feels good; just some relief.
I know this is true in my life. I came from a bit of poverty and am in constant self-battle for denial. I want nice clothes. I want people to think highly of my tastes and style, but have to refuse it because of the meaning I would be putting on it. It would falsely make me feel better. The battle with food is lost. I love to eat out and have nice meals and eat when I can and I know it stems from the self-indulgence inside. I eat when I am tired, bored, sad and my body craves more and more. It has become more then just energy; it has become comfort and a false one at that. I have put hope, only if it is a little, into food to make me feel good but this hope rots and fades and falls away. This literal consumption is only one of the things we need to shed and with Christ, we can!
Two verses this reminds of:
(1) Is about treasure (hope) that fades and one that doesn't like my food and our consumption:
- "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6: 19-21)
- "Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." (Philippians 3: 19-21)