Affectionately termed “Black Friday” by U.S. consumer retailers and popularized by the media, the day after Thanksgiving is the official launch of the retail holiday season. It is the day that retailers hope that sales will put their businesses in “the black,” rather than “the red” and is supposed to be an economic indicator of the entire holiday shopping season.
Retailers know the allure of a sale, the ongoing state of the average American’s pocket book, and the inherent tendency of human nature to buy what we do not need but wished we had. Black Friday has become a quintessential hallmark of American consumerism.
Last December, I found myself almost entrapped with the same magnetic pull of a great sale for a flat screen television. Only one problem…our very old TV still worked (although had/has its quirks). We really did not need a new TV. The barrage of sale advertisements did not make it easy to decline.
Don’t get me wrong. I like a sale just like anyone else and enjoy the pleasure of giving gifts to family and friends at Christmas. However, I also recognize the seduction of “more,” “bigger,” “better,” and “quicker.” Entrapment to bigger and better is one of the most accepted forms of cultural bondage ~ inside and outside the American church.
David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama, has written a provocative new book entitled, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream, challenging the American church to return to a biblical lifestyle of radical discipleship to reach the nations. Considered one of the youngest megachurch pastors in American history, this 32-year old pastor is not being duped by the American dream in simply building bigger buildings and augmenting church membership. Platt is passionate about God’s glory among the nations and focusing the church’s financial resources to maximizing the simple gospel message (Matthew 28:18-20). He writes, “We are settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity us actually about abandoning ourselves” (p. 7). Somehow this message cannot compete with Black Friday.
With Advent beginning this Sunday, November 30th (four Sundays prior to Christmas), I am committed to spend within my financial means and to consider how I might most honor Jesus in financial giving to share His love with those who have not yet heard.
How do you resist the allure of “more?” What are your thoughts about how you desire to honor Jesus this Advent season?