CONSUMERISM CONSUMES THE PERSON

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

CONSUMERISM CONSUMES THE PERSON

Saint John Climcaus writes, "Avarice is said to be the root of all evil, and it is so because it causes hatred, theft, envy, separations, hostility, stormy blasts, remembrance of past wrongs, inhuman acts, and even murder." In his letter to the holy Apostle, 1Timothy 6:10, Saint Paul writes, "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

The Holy Scripture does not use the term consumerism, but it certainly refers to the kind of attitude Jesus warned us, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses" (Luke 12:15). The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ then offers a parable to them, saying: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do since I have no room to store my crops? So he said, ‘I will do this, I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night you soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided? So is he who lays up treasures for himself, and is not rich toward God" (Luke 12:16-21).

An "abundance of possessions" is what consumerism is all about, but those who pursue that path are missing the target and purpose of this earthly life. Consumerism brings neither security nor happiness in life. The Psalmist writes: "If riches increase, do not set your heart on them" (Psalm 62:10). The things we accumulate now can disappear tomorrow. Psalm 119:36-37 reveals to us the correct thinking: "Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes FROM LOOKING AT WORTHLESS THINGS…". Instead of worshipping God, man worships the creation. Much better than consumerism is theosis (deification), because "…godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry anything out" (1 Timothy 6:6-7).

At the Divine Liturgy, the priest pronounces the words, "We offer You Your own from Your own" as he "elevates" the Holy Gifts. We have nothing of our own to offer to God: "Every good thing and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights" (James 1:17). Everything we have we have received from God. It is therefore abundantly clear that we should offer thanksgiving and praise to our Lord for His innumerable blessings and gifts. I, therefore, would say that the antidote for consumerism is gratefulness to our Creator for and all that He does for us. Grateful children are not seeking ways to receive more but are content with what they already possess.

There is absolutely no doubt that the greatest evil of consumerism is that it pulls our concentration from our Lord Jesus Christ and His Eternal Kingdom to mundane and temporal things. When the Orthodox Christian is baptized he or she becomes a new creature in Christ, "a reasoning sheep of Thy Christ, a worthy member of Thy Church, a sanctified vessel, a child of light, and inheritor of Thy Kingdom" (Service for the Catechumens). We are reborn through water and the Spirit and therefore we become citizens of Paradise. We are no longer attached to worldly things but have our sights on our Savior Jesus Christ, "His Kingdom, and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33).

Consumerism is none other than materialism. "Consumerism encourages purchasing and consumption of goods and services in excess of a person’s needs." It can be traced back to the onset of captitalism in the 16th century in Europe. According to some increasing consumerism tends to shift away societies from important values such as integrity, ethics and morality. We all know for a fact that people tend to buy goods and services they don’t necessarily need so that they can be at par or at a higher level than everyone else. Furthermore, consumerism creates stress, depression, and axiety. It forces one to work harder, longer, borrow more and spend less time with family and loved ones. Consumerism also causes environmental and moral degradation. It is common sense that a peson’s love for the finer things in life should not come at the expense of his/her spiritual, emotional, and mental health. Our Savior Jesus Christ asks, "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26).

The acquisition of material things do not bring happiness and fulfillment to anyone. Things may bring one instant gratification but NOT a long lasting joy. What consumerism does is to enslave us and to deceive us to believe that things such as cars, houses, money, yachts, airplanes, etc. will give meaning and purpose to our life. For the Orthodox Christian only the Almighty God can give meaning to our life, fulfillment, and purpose and not man-made products, Our Master and God Jesus Christ teaches the believer the following: "Do not lay up yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thievs break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break kin and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21). By attaching themselves to "treasures on earth" people sever themselves off from heavenly treasures. They become slaves, not free in Christ.

____________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

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