Consumerism or Christ?

“But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” Gal. 6:14.

In Galatia, Paul had to deal with the problem of a different gospel. The Judaizers had come into the churches after he and Barnabas had left and brought in the gospel of legalism. His gospel was only Christ (Gal. 1:11,12; 15, 16). Yet the radically religious Jewish believers added something to the gospel. They tried to add something to Christ.

“But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” Gal. 6:14.

In Galatia, Paul had to deal with the problem of a different gospel. The Judaizers had come into the churches after he and Barnabas had left and brought in the gospel of legalism. His gospel was only Christ (Gal. 1:11,12; 15, 16). Yet the radically religious Jewish believers added something to the gospel. They tried to add something to Christ.

This was because some of the Galatians never really received the revelation of the cross. They didn’t realize that they had been crucified on that tree (Ro. 6:8; Col. 3:3). They actually thought that they still had their own lives! But a dead man doesn’t try to obey the Law of Moses. Why would he want to be circumcised? He’s dead to himself and only alive to God (Ro. 6:11).

For Paul, to live was Christ (Phil. 2:21), there was nothing else. Nothing else could be added because nothing else existed. Paul got it. Christ was his All. He lived to express Christ, preach Christ, and fulfill God’s eternal purpose in Christ. However, we find ourselves in a different situation today.

Our Modern Dilemma

It’s very clear from the scriptures that God has an eternal purpose (Eph. 1 & 3). This purpose is something that God had desired since before creation, hence the term eternal purpose. This purpose is centered in his beloved Son:

He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his kind intention which he purposed in him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ. Things in the heavens and things on the earth” Eph. 1:9, 10.

If you continue to read the letter to the Ephesians, this eternal purpose and will of God should become clear. God wants to increase or expand the sphere of his Son by having a Body for his expression, a Family for his community life, and a Bride with whom to share his love.

But herein lies our problem. We neither see nor understand this eternal passion within the heart of our God because we have been blinded by another gospel. This gospel is predominantly preached to us by our western culture and we have bought into it hook, line, and sinker. It colors everything we do and tints our spectacles to only see that which it wants us to see. This gospel has tightly fit us into its own mold and now everything we do is influenced by it.

We are not free to live by Christ, for Christ, and to Christ, nor are we free to live for God’s eternal purpose and passion. The tentacles of this monstrous mindset have their grips on our every thought and action. It’s like a wet blanket that is suffocating us from experiencing and displaying the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

I am referring to the “gospel,” mindset, and culture of western consumerism.

We are a consumerist society and it pervades every area of our lives. Human need is god, and everything revolves around us getting our needs and desires fulfilled. The cry is, “Hey! I have needs you know. These needs must be met at whatever the cost!”

Needs by the Dozens

This becomes the most telling when we look at organized Christianity. Our “churches” are built upon fulfilling human needs. When Christians go “church shopping” what do they look for? A good preacher so I can be fed the Word. A good youth program so my kids can be taught. A good worship team so I can feel good during the service on Sunday morning. I want a closer location and a schedule of programs that fits my lifestyle. A good discipleship program so that I will mature in my walk with God.

All of these things we look for are no more than features and benefits. These are things that we feel we need. We have wants. We have needs. The church is here to fulfill those needs.

But then there are the needs of the world. What about the lost? They have a need for salvation. What about the poor? They have a need for food. And what about those in prison, or the sick, abused, exploited, neglected, abandoned, etc.? Isn’t the church here to take care of all of them?

We have Missed the Whole Point

We have been so “consumed” with human need. Could it be that we have totally missed the whole reason that the church of Jesus Christ even exists?

Our God has a Need!

Now I know that all you theologian types out there just reacted to that statement. However, I do realize that God is all sufficient within his own nature. But in a sense, he does have a need in relationship to his eternal purpose. He has an urgent desire and passion to accomplish something. And he needs certain things to take place to accomplish his goal.

My point is that we are so consumed with human need that we have forgotten that the church exists for one purpose and one purpose only. And that is to satisfy the longing within the heart of God! And that longing is that his dear Son would become the sum, the center, the head, the fulfillment, the expression, and the source of all things (Eph. 1); that he would fill all things with himself (Eph. 4:10); that this glorious Christ would have an expression that would freely express him in all his fullness (Eph. 1:22, 23); and that this expression would put all of his enemies to shame (Eph. 3: 8-12). As you can tell, this is a much higher calling than that of human need!

What about those who have left institutional Christianity? What about we who are involved in the house/simple/missional/emergent church movements? If we are brutally honest with ourselves, we will admit that much of what is happening among these movements is driven by the same exact engine as the institutional church – human need!

As I see it, many of our house churches are setup to meet the needs of those in the group and/or to meet the needs of those in the world. But I propose to you that this is the wrong premise. The only reason that any group calling itself a “church” should exist is to fulfill the eternal purpose of God in Christ. Everything else will flow out from that foundation.

If the eternal purpose of God in Christ is the vision and foundation for a church, then the life of Christ will flow out of that group to both meet the needs of the believers and the needs of the world around it.

If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Ps. 11:3

Brothers and sisters, may we all abandon foundations which are other than Christ and his glorious purpose and go for the gold of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ!

Read more articles at:  The Rebuilders

Author: Milt Rodriguez

Milt is an author, speaker, and organic church planter.

8 thoughts on “Consumerism or Christ?”

  1. Hey Milt… great article and good to hear you keep pounding away at this. These ‘mind sets’ and ‘mind filters’ that you talk about are so predominant in most of us that we don’t even realize just how far away we’re turned from the Son!
    I was sent a YouTube song from a brother the other day that was quite good and I went to check out the website for the church it came out of and watched their ‘promo’ video and was saddened to see and hear that it was 100% consumed with “human needs” in one form or another. Every event and every program was geared to meeting needs and there was absolutely nothing mentioned about God’s ageless purpose.
    How we need to be reminded that it’s not about us, but about Him. Thanks, Milt!

  2. Much of what Milt has written here may be provocative, but there has never been any true church reform without provocation. Existing structures and forms must be called into account, especially if they are mutant aberrations of God’s original and ultimate intention. Prophetic voices have never been received with warmth and praise. Prophetic words, by their very nature, are designed to “root out and pull down, to destroy and to overthrow” in order to “buld and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:10)

    I wonder if churches called “Christian” ever give thought to what HE wants. Often times, if they seek numerical growth, they will bring in consultats, who actually charge a fee, to help develop vision statements for their church. So out of these “vision statements” comes a strategy for appealing to a larger audience, to bring in the crowds, for “crowds” in the current “business model” of the church are markers of “success.” Thus the consumers are the “congregation” and the programs, the wit and charm of the preachers, and the message of “Christ has something for everybody” is what brings them in.

    But Jesus never entrusted Himself to such crowds that just sought Him for the loaves and fishes that He provided them on the hillside.

    But often, this strategy really works! These are what we call “seeker-friendly” churches. There is a spiritual smorgasboard laid out for every taste and need. One pastor of a mega-church actually bragged: “We aren’t a church of the way; we are a church of “options!”

    And this church is pulling the crowds in, in droves!

    But is this way of “options” of Christ? Or is Christ the only option?

    There needs to be a readjustment back to God’s eternal purpose in Christ Jesus as so passionately spoken by Paul. It was this “eternal purpose” which brought him to his knees (Eph. 3:14).

    The churches, no matter their strain, need to seriously look at what they’re doing and pray their way back to the beginning. The church needs to be converted back to God’s eternal purpose in Christ Jesus.

    Brother, you might not be the most popular guy on the ecclesiastical block that has elected to compromise God’s eternal purpose, but how we need to ponder the gravity of the situation the church is in today. There is a remedy. Paul says that he has written about it “to enlighten all men and make plain to them, what is the plan…” That “plan” is uncovered in full disclosure in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Thank you brother for reminding us of iits whereabouts.

    In Christ,

    Clark Wade

  3. My heart is so heavy today. And then I read this blog and found I could put words to my grief.
    I am surrounded by Christians caught up by consumerism – my family; my friends; those I work with. The institutionalized church I have recently left is so “Americanized” that I can’t decide to yell/scream/kick or throw up!
    Of course I will do neither.
    You, Mr. R. and others like F. V. have an outlet for your frustrations and beliefs. I have only one at present – live the Truth. Wish I did have some other positive way to expend this energy though. Any ideas?!
    Thanks, Sybil (alias, Chloria)

  4. Too right brother. Humanism in the church has got to go, not just the Dark Ages constructs and the likes. We need to live out the Kingdom of Christ all day every day in every way… all of us.

    peace

  5. We need a Church where it’s people are not considered any pastor’s property, for they are not goods to be bought
    or sold. Neither are they to be used for buying their books
    or promotion of their ministry.

    Can you find anywhere in the Bible where anyone was told
    that one person should not be ministered to by another because they were ‘owned’ by another delivering judge?

    Among themselves, users of people might come up with such ‘gentleman’s agreements’ but are they scriptural?

    Despots or deliverers? What should we have? Do we want
    those who will plead the cause of those oppressed, seaching out all matters and willing to make the plea of “Please have mercy.” when it is right to do so, or do we want tyrants who would have people to be made in their own image? Shouldn’t we want non-sectarian deliverers instead, those that are willing to judge righteous judgments to free the captives?

    What kind of a pastor or church leader (apostle?) would not want to have delivering judges in the ministry of reconciliation, pleading the causes, so he can go on with prayer and ministry of the word?

    Shouldn’t the Church learn to judge itself? If there is a Church that doesn’t judge itself what might it have, a 50%
    divorce rate? If the Church has a divorce rate as high as that of those of this world, can we really say we have the ministry of reconciliation? Can we really bring people into the kingdom without it working in real, practical ways? Can
    we really evangelize without such practice in the gospel where it really matters?

    Is it well with the Church? (see Jer 22:16 KJV) Have we been doing it? Isn’t it time to get to know God his way?

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