Psalm 19, Romans 13:11–14, Jude 12–19 (read online ⧉)
An attitude of gratitude should be one of the characteristics of a maturing Christian. This is not normal for the Christian or for most people. Capitalism has been a great catalyst for change and improvements. However, it comes with significant and very serious dark sides. For example, part of the cultural meme for January is the shock and grieving that comes with the credit card bills from Christmas celebrations (whether activities or presents). There is even one that is currently going around about people being thankful for finally paying off the bills from last Christmas, right before Thanksgiving.
A number of years ago, there was a strong “underground” Christian movement called the Advent Conspiracy. It sought to disrupt the Christian buy-in of spending for Christmas or at least spending on self. There have been other attempts at doing the same limiting Christmas to a single family present, or following the tradition (i.e., not in the Bible) of the gifts of the 3 (another traditional number, rather than in the Bible) wise men (i.e., Magi): gold (garb), frankincense (fun), and myrrh (mental). All of these seek to “limit” the excesses of cultural Christmas celebrations. However, “limiting” the excesses becomes a new rule, and rules aren’t supposed to be the point.
We are to be transformed, not seeking after the desires of the flesh. For far too long, “the flesh” has been too tightly defined as lust or gluttony. In our days, “keeping up with the Jones’” is often the stronger desire of the flesh. People put themselves deeply into debt for instant gratification. Debt, of course, has become a chain around many, maybe you or your family.
Black Friday is no spiritual holiday. It is a cultural event that celebrates and encourages excess and bad behavior. Now, this doesn’t mean don’t save money, but more along the lines of don’t fall into the traps that the culture, envy, greed, and coveting. It wasn’t that long ago that unbridled spending was patriotic. However, as many costs (such as higher education and medical care) go higher and higher, people are having harder and harder times paying for things.
As we “end” our season of Thanksgiving (though it should be a way of life, not a month a year), and enter Advent, let us remember that Christ should be sufficient and satisfy our desires.
1) What do you do (or did you do) for Black Friday? Why?
2) What do you think of attempts to restrain our spending with practices or challenges? Do they work?
3) Why do you think excess has been such an issue with things like Black Friday or Christmas?