It's 'Black Friday.' It sounds ominous, I know. Retailers are spinning out marketing campaigns in order to cash in on the common consumer sense of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Today, millions of dollars will be spent by those who are seeking out their favoured items for a slashed price. Of course, it is a great opportunity to get your hands on a cheap Christmas present. But too often, this day becomes all about 'us.' The retailing superpowers are hell-bent on convincing us that we need to purchase something, simply because it is 20% off.
But there is a more serious side to all of this. As we know from the Bible, the love of possessions is a spiritual issue. Feeding yourself with material things can be fun for a while. But when the buzz of a new toy subsides, you are left feeling empty and discontent. Plus, you've now got a houseful of stuff that you don't really need and will probably seldom use. Here are 3 ways that an affection for possessions can leave you feeling shortchanged, and why your true need is found in Jesus Christ.
1. Possessions never satisfy the craving spiritual desire that lies within us.
The coloured ad banners, the promise of an incredible deal "NOW," and the tempting allure of 'needing' something that you really could do without, will captivate millions today. It will stir up anxiety, arouse a sense of entitlement, and cause fights to break out at supermarket checkouts. Now i'll admit, I had a cheeky look at the Black Friday deals this morning. How long did it take for me to go from seeking out a gift for my wife, to pining after a new gadget for myself? I'd say 5 mins. I could feel that gripping desire rise up in me which says "I deserve this," or "this will make my life much better!" It's a damn coffee machine, man. It's not going to change your life! I had to get a grip. Christians, let's be different. Let's model true contentment and spiritual fulfilment that comes from relationship with Jesus Christ. And let's offer it to others today.
2. 'You never see a U-Haul behind a hearse.'
This is a quote from actor Denzel Washington. It has stuck with me ever since I heard him say it in an interview a few years back. We really cannot take this stuff with us. Earthly materials will come and go. Apple upgrades will keep on being churned out across the product line, and every new edition will soon become obsolete. Eventually, eternally, all material wealth and possessions will be relegated to 'worthless.' I'm reminded of those powerful words in Matthew 6:19: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." Scary, but true. Let's be different, and store up our eternal riches in heaven today. Let's bless and serve others.
3. Fixation on 'things' encourages a heart of self-centredness.
Black Friday is the ultimate expression of an over-entitled and hopeless western consumer culture. Why do you think people are fighting over a flat-screen TV? "It's mine! No, it's mine, I deserve this more than you!" people cry as they battle for electrical goods. Retailers are genius in how they latch onto our gnawing desire to fill the spiritual void with more 'stuff.' But have you noticed, it never works? We're here again. Another year, another Black Friday campaign. It's a lifeless circle. Getting a few Christmas presents for others is great. Picking something up for yourself at a cut price? Sweet! But when we fixate on our personal "need" for material possessions, we become spiritually lost. There are so many other things that demand our attention today. Other, truly needy people that we have been commanded to serve and bless - they are out there. So, let's seek out the meek, the suffering and the struggling, and bless them today, on a day when the material world is convincing you to focus on 'self.' Through service and outward expressions of God's love, we find true fulfilment.
We find no peace in hoarding material possessions. It is our spiritual heart disease that tries to convince us otherwise. We consistently buy into the lie that a half price games console will be the 'thing' that is going to promote us from one degree of glory to another. Or at least take our mind off the serious stuff of life. Let's not bury our heads in the sand today. We may pick up some bargains this #BlackFriday, but I for one am going to be careful to check my heart before I do!
So, may we trade-in this 'Black' Friday for a hope-filled end of the week, bursting with color and stacked full with the promises of God. He is the great provider. We need not panic. May we love fiercely, bless abundantly, and demonstrate the true personal satisfaction that can only be found in the finished work of Jesus Christ.