Consumer Christians take grace for granted and spend little time desiring obedience and holiness. Consumerist Christians sit back and expect to be served, but spend little time embodying the gospel. Why does this occur?
The Problem: Jesus...as Lord?
Perhaps one of the problems is our view of Jesus. Underlying both, perhaps, is a pattern of thought that acknowledges Jesus as Saviour, but not as Lord. For a consumer, Jesus is not their Lord who has called them to be holy and obedient, Jesus is not the all consuming ruler of the universe who’s resurrection changes their lives. For the consumerist Christian they see Jesus as the one who serves (them), but not as the one who commands them to “love one another as I have loved you.” An incomplete view of the person of Jesus leads to an incomplete view of the gospel, and an incomplete view of the gospel leads to an incomplete practice of faith.
The Solution: Reclaim it
The solution then for consumers and consumerists is to reclaim the Lordship of Christ and a gospel of transformation. The gospel message is not “the pie in the sky when you die,” but the “steak on the plate while you wait.” The transformation of the Holy Spirit, leads you into a life loving holiness, desiring Jesus’ divine demands and following God’s commandments. “ For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase,” (Deut 30:16). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for legalism; but don’t swing too far on the pendulum away from legalism that you forget that God demands your obedience. Following commands does not equate to legalism.
Live the Best Life
To achieve our goal of “Every Youth = Every Christian,” CY needs to have leaders who love obedience and holiness: which is a counternarrative of our youth culture. Whereas our culture preaches that freedom lies in an individual’s choice of limitless self-fulfillment, Christianity attests that true freedom lies in a individual’s choice of life within the good limits of God’s design.
To be truly human and truly free doesn’t mean doing whatever we want,
to be truly human and truly free is doing what is good;
and goodness is God’s design in Christ.
Life is lived best, then, when we live under God’s kingship. “Choose life!” (Deut 30:19) becomes a calling for both us and the youths.
“What can I get out of this?”
One of the biggest dangers of Christianity in the western world is the unwitting adoption of consumerism into our faith. From a consumerist worldview, church is seen as a service provider, and the body of Christ as customers. “What can I get out of this?” rather than “What can I give to this?” is the question asked.
And sometimes this consumerist attitude is perpetuated by churches, youth groups and ministries. We prepare worship time as entertaining and slick, with the most able people at the front. Sometimes we “bait and switch,” inviting people to a night of entertainment, and BAM! we sneak in a 20 minute talk and the invitees sit uncomfortably. Ministries are event-based aimed to attract people to come; success is measured by the number of people attending and whether they put a 9-10 in the “I found this helpful” category. Church becomes a place of choice rather than commitment; faith becomes an experience of gain rather than sacrifice.
Habits and Rituals
Of course, do not hear me wrong. Aside from “bait and switch,” preparing worship in a helpful and slick way, event-based ministries, numbers of attendees and their feedback are not bad things. But to what sort of habits and rituals are we conforming the church?
We Are What We Do
Philosopher and Theologian James K. A. Smith tells us that “we are what we do.” Our habits, rituals, postures and patterns of life form us spiritually. And when we forget to critique our ingrained habits that have consumerist values or form us to be consumers, we lead a new generation of believers blindly into committing cultural sins.
Are we consumerist Christians? Characteristics of consumer christians:
What is a Consumer Christian?
One way of looking at it is what Dallas Willard (an American philosopher and Christian writer) describes as “Vampire Christians”. He writes:
“ One, in effect, says to Jesus: “I’d like a little of your blood, please. But I don’t care to be your student or have your character. In fact, won’t you just excuse me while I get on with my life, and I’ll see you in heaven.” But is this really acceptable to Jesus?”
In short, Consumer Christians do not take holiness seriously, because faith is what they receive, not how they obey. Faith is about what they can get, but little about what they can give and sacrifice. They have Jesus as Saviour, but not Lord of their lives. The cross becomes a vending machine, rather than an example for life.
But God’s word tells us that we are to “put off the old self… and put on the new” (Eph 4:22-24), we are to be “holy for Yahweh is holy” (1 Pet 1:16), Christ has ‘saved us and called us into a holy life” (2 Tim1:9).
How does this influence CY?
What if the goal we have for every youth coming out of CY was to become what the bible says every Christian should be?
What if, Year 12s coming out of CY:
Every Youth = Every Christian captures something that we’ve been aiming to do at CY this year. In my teaching training, I’ve been told that when we set high expectations for our students, you will get high results. Peter Adams, at our last Getaway said,
“Have the highest expectations for those around you,
and the greatest amount of grace.”
Every Youth = Every Christian, sets high expectations that our youths would be “empower[ed].. to join in the Mission of God wherever they are” throughout adolescence and as they enter adulthood.
But before we can understand how these goals can be achieved, we need to understand our context.
Over the next few weeks, we will explore these felt needs and the goals and objectives that will help us strive for “Every Youth = Every Christian.”