It’s amazing how American consumerism has infiltrated the church. All of us tend to think like a consumer rather we like to admit it or not. We either explicitly or implicitly ask ourselves, “How am I benefited from this product or service? What does it do for me? How is my life enriched because of it?”
Honestly, these questions and more are important to ask when purchasing a product, like groceries, movies, video games, and/or sodas, or service, such as life insurance, medical assistance, or tutoring.
However, to ask such questions in regards to the church can be damaging to ourselves as well as others.
many people enter a church as American consumers and ask themselves such questions as, “How comfortable are their pews? Is their coffee freshly brewed? Was I greeted with a warm smile, a hearty handshake, and an embracing hug? Do they make me feel important? What programs do they offer me or my children? Is their music contemporary and include some hits from K-Love’s Top 10? Will I have fun? Will people here be my friends? What exactly are the doing for me, myself, and I?”
Is this the attitude that we should have as followers of Jesus Christ? Should we not be more concerned about the welfare of others rather than ourselves?
The reason that I bring up such questions is due to my scholastic studies today. On Friday’s I am “off” from my duties at the church; however, I spend the vast majority of the day (8 to 10 hours) doing school work. Today I am devoting most of my time to a research paper for my class in New Testament Studies. My topic is 1 Corinthians 14.1-19 where Paul spends the entirety of his time talking about edifying the church.
First, I am not saying that Paul was putting together blueprints for building or remodeling a particular church building. This is not the kind of “building up” I am talking about here. When Paul refers to the church, he is not referring to a building, he is referring to the people. As Christians we make up the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12.13) and are considered the church, not the building. This is why I always stress that when we gather together on Wednesday evenings or Sunday mornings that we are meeting at the worship center and not the church. For the church is not a destination or physical address. The church is a group of like minded Christians who are gathered together for the purpose of worshipping God and furthering His kingdom on earth. This is why I will always differentiate between the two.
O.K., enough said on my tangent for now!
In 1 Corinthians 14.1-19, Paul’s main purpose in writing to the Corinthians is that their times together in the worship of God would edify one another. To edify the church (i.e. the Christians gathered together for worship) is the same as uplifting them and/or enlightening them to a Scriptural truth from the Bible.
Do you see how this is completly opposite to American consumerism? How Paul is more concerned about Christians building up other people rather than themselves?
Some may ask, “What does this have to do with us today?” Great question and I’m glad you asked.
If you are a Christian (sorry to exclude those of you who do not consider yourselves Christians, but I have to talk to my fellow brothers and sisters here) then you should move from American consumerism in your thinking, and begin to ask yourself questions like, “Can I help someone to their seat? Should I get up so that I can allow a mother and her children to sit in my place? Do they need help with the coffee? What can I do to build up the person beside, or the new face that I saw today? How can I help the church further the mission that God has given them? How can I consider others better than myself by putting their needs above my own? How can I take action and simply walk across the room and ask someone their name, what they like to do, and how I can encourage them?”
As people who battle with sinful tendencies, we will never fall victim of taking care of ourselves and looking out for our own needs. This is why we must remind ourselves everyday of our lives how we can best love and serve our neighbor.
Remember, as we gather together and worship God, it is more about building up other individuals and the body as a whole rather than ourselves. As we sow acts of love, mercy, attention, and kindness into other peoples lives, then we can anticipate to reap the same things at some point in time.
Now I would like for you to ask yourself, “Am I more concerned about myself and my needs or am I more concerned about the needs of others and the church as a whole?”
May the LORD help all of us change our way of thinking from ourselves to others.
To Him be the glory in the church and throughout all generations! (Ephesians 3.21).