For many, the wish “Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” will become a fulfilled prophesy as the holiday season will be a refreshing season filled with joy and laughter, family and friends, and lots of sweet fattening foods. But in a culture where the holidays have also been hijack by increasing consumer pressure to spend money (and lots of it), this season will turn out to be a season of regret that brings much stress and heartache…perhaps creating other systemic problems in the future. The following video will help explain a bit more.
The book of Amos issues a clear call for justice to be done. “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (5.24, NIV). Eventually God declares that he will no longer spare Israel from his judgment, describing them as people who “trample” the needy and “do away with” the poor (8.1-4).
I am not ignorant of the need for personal responsibility when it comes to the decisions, good or bad, that people make. However, there is also a clear need to for the stronger to protect the weaker rather than allow the vulnerable to be preyed upon. Yet we live in a culture that allow these predatory business to to advertise and enter into business with people who lack many of the necessary skills to enter into a fair agreement (why else do these business only seem to pop up in low-income and low-education neighborhoods?).
Briefly, the solution to problem does not just seem to be putting an end to predatory business (although that would make a great start). It seems that we must address the dark-side of consumerism that turns a well-intentioned activity (buying someone a gift) into a materialistic enterprise that becomes a season cult of personality. This seems to be where the church and its preachers, shepherds, and other leaders must show that the birth of Jesus is part of a gospel that stands as an alternative reality to the ways of our culture…an alternative that always is the way of God breaking forth and transforming culture.
I pray that as the holiday season passes, that the gospel way of life seen in the birth of the baby named Jesus and beyond will have more influence than the culture of consumerism.