Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Consumers and contentment

I'm quite aware that I live in a culture built on consumerism.  It has permeated every pore of our culture.  It has permeated me!  I live like a consumer, I think like a consumer and the stores all around me reinforce my mindset and desire for stuff.  And, if they don't have it you can order it online and get it at your door tomorrow!  

But there is a whole different mindset in the pages of scripture.  A mindset of contentment.  A mindset and lifestyle of only using what you need.  It's a foreign mindset to the world I live in, it's a difficult concept for me to keep in focus.

I remember the story told by Phillip Yancey when he went to a monastic retreat.  The priest of the monastery took him to his room, a room with a simple bed, a small desk, chair and light.  The priest told him, as he opened the door on this setting, "if you need anything just let us know and we will teach you how to live without it."  

That story has stuck with me.  I think of it and tell it often, but I still live and think like a consumer.  The area where it affects me the most is in the product we call food.  I'm a consumer of food, lots of it!  This whole area of thought has been weighing on me as I think about the world around me and how I have responded to it.  I find that I am rarely hungry and always have more than I need.  You can tell it by just looking at me....but I'm convicted about this. I'm convicted that being a consumer, especially in the area of food, is not honoring to God who said he would supply all I need.

Paul wrote about this and has always given me pause as he wrote in Philippians 4, 

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

In this passage I don't see a consumer, but one who uses what he needs and finds contentment in God even if he doesn't have what he needs.  I know, from other words of Paul, that he was often hungry.  How have I avoided that, missed that and not found a contentment even in hunger?  It's something I'm working on this morning.

No comments: