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Consumer War

• Greg Boyd

We live in a warzone where there are powers trying to derail us from living a life like Jesus. One of these powers is consumerism. In this sermon, Greg shows us how consumerism is anti-Christ, and we should change our mindset in order to fight back.

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We are called to wake up to all the things in our culture that are not consistent with the Kingdom. One of the calls of Jesus is to live a life that is reflective of the Kingdom. This means that if there’s anything in our lives that is not a part of the Kingdom, then we need to take a look and try to change it.

Consumerism has an antichrist dimension to it. Many people see the antichrist as a person in the future who will lead the forces of evil in the battle of Armageddon. However, the New Testament authors saw all the spirits that fell with Satan as antichrist because they function opposite of Christ. So, consumerism functions this way. Not metaphorically, but actual entities sucking the life out of us. Consumerism hinges on people being dissatisfied with their life and always needing to buy something in order to make it better. This is antichrist because Jesus wants us to be unselfish with our resources and not depend on things of this world to satisfy us.

When we rebelled, we misused our authority on Earth. The same thing happened in the angelic realm. When Satan fell and took other angels with him, these beings started to abuse and misuse their authority on Earth. Instead of things working together in harmony, Earth became a warzone. And we still live in that warzone today.

Every culture that has something that dehumanizes people is a result of the fallen powers’ influence. We see, throughout history, that every culture has its demons that affect it. Some cultures were influenced by paganism. Some were influenced by warfare. And ours is no different, as we are influenced by many demonic influences. We need to realize that we still live in a war zone.

People think differently when on vacation compared to living in a warzone. When people are on vacation, they relax and treat themselves to comfort. And people need this time. However, when people live in a warzone, there is no time to relax and treat themselves. The problem with American society is that we are constantly being told to relax and treat ourselves all the time, and not treat our lives like we’re living in a warzone. By following Jesus, we can live the life we need to live.

Jesus rebelled against these powers by the way he lived his life. Jesus was radical when it came to wealth, treatment of women, socioeconomic stratification, and nationalism. Jesus exhibited a lifestyle of warfare. He was starting a Kingdom of revolution. Jesus wanted his people to follow in his footsteps.

We win by living like Jesus. When we live a life that follows Jesus, we begin to fight back against these antichrist powers in the world. By not adopting consumerism, we begin to use our resources for good. When we ration our comfort in this world, we begin to free up time and money to help other people, and we’ll be read to answer the call of God on our lives.

We should live with a warfare and rationing mindset. Ask God, what do you want us to ration? God wants to show you exactly where you can cut back in your life to free up resources. It’s our free will that has us listening or not listening to God. But if people in World War 2 could ration for their war effort, then surely we can ration ours for God’s effort.

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Topics: Conflict, Simplicity, Spiritual Warfare

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Focus Scripture:

  • 1 John 2:18

    Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. From this we know that it is the last hour.

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8 thoughts on “Consumer War

  1. Tim G. says:

    Love you Greg but I’m gonna need Chapter and verse detailing why Jesus didn’t choose a female apostle….

  2. Dave Pritchard says:

    I’ve often wondered this as well, especially in light of recent Dan Brown nonsense.

    Resolving the Interpretive Issues of Romans 16:7

    “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.”

    This doesn’t exactly prove anything conclusively, but it looks very probable! The emphasis is on the – “before I was”.

  3. M85 says:

    I loved “Myth of a Christian Religion” especially the chapter on wealth and poverty.

  4. Kathy D. says:

    Thank you for the message and teaching on consumerism. Much needed in our world!! I dropped out of the consumer culture a few years ago. If I need something, I usually find a thrift store or garage sale, or try to find it on Craigslist.

    Also, thank you for bringing animals into your message. We are so far removed in our society, in our world indeed in most places, from the animal kingdom (except for our domestic pet family members) that most of us today are unaware of their needs and the tremendous suffering happening to them. One has to look into it for the most part, as most of it rarely makes mainstream news.

    Which is another thing I gave up for the most part – Public Radio and Public Tele are the sources I most visit to keep up with the goings on in the world. Mostly free of advertisements, as well, a little perk!!

    Thank you again, Greg, for the message and this series; I look forward to the coming sermons.

  5. Peter says:

    Tim G, you make an interesting observation for a message on Consumer War.

    I thought there would be greater difficulty with Greg’s U2 360 concert emblazoned t shirt. T shirt sloganeering/advertising tends to be more identified with consumerists than a peculiar Christian trait. You therefore have to ask what sort of message is Greg wishing to present (was this a ‘normal’ for Greg or was this the only clean t shirt he had?) and is that appropriate in a Church setting and being Christlike?

    Personally in the context of the message and with a view of maintaining the integrity of the message I felt the dress sense was inappropriate on this occasion.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not looking to impose dress standards on the Church, but things need to be done decently and in order, so as not to compromise the message that Jesus is effectively giving.

    Let’s face it, would you go to a counselor on alcoholism who has a glass of beer on the table or for quiting smoking with the counselor having a lit cigarette in the ashtray……where is the integrity?……or someone talking against consumerism while wearing the ‘uniform’/billboard of a consumerist……but this is a ‘Christian Band’ which is like the alcohol counselor saying this is a ‘Christian beer’ or a ‘Christian cigarette’….so how does adding the word ‘Christain’, ‘sanctify’ a consumer practice?

    So while the message was good, the t shirt was an unnecessary distraction.

  6. Christopher says:

    I am going to have to take issue with the way Greg has formed this thesis. It seems to me that he is taking the metaphors too far.

    He starts by qualifying his statements to make sure that he is not misunderstood as opposing the economic system. After all, a healthy society is one where people freely produce goods and services, and then exchange them for other goods and services. This puts food in our stomachs, a roof over our heads, and clothes on our back. (And yes, an iPod in our pocket.) Fine, I am glad he made that disclaimer.

    However, he then goes on and defines “Consumerism” in a way that is antithetical to the Kingdom of God. Again, I would not disagree, except that I suspect there are few who conscientiously literally and wholeheartedly embrace consumerism, as he defined it. This is likely especially true for his primary audience.

    By focusing on a purely economic centric message, it results in treating the symptoms, not the problem. The problem is sin and our bad choices from day to day. (Wel all have that, don’t we? cf. 1 Jn 1:8-10) The problem is a lack of relationship with God. I recently came across a quote from Augustine (who I normally do not agree with): “Whatever we love outside God, so much the less do we love him.” Stay with me a bit more…

    Greg then brings in the warfare view, which again, I agree with. However, he merges the metaphors, which become problematic. Again, he introduces a metaphor of vacationing in the middle of a battle field. His logic says 1. you do not vacation in the middle of the battle field, 2. we are in the middle of a battle, so therefore, he seems to conclude that kingdom of God people should not take vacations. That is the only conclusion you can come to, using his metaphors, but is that really what he is saying? I doubt it.

    It is not the things we have, or even the good things we have, that are the problem. God knows how to give us good things (Mt 7:11). The problem is how we respond to them, and the influence we allow them to have on us. We are indeed to be aware of how we are living, and what we are doing (cf. Mt 22:37-40). We need to be aware when something is not (or no longer) a good thing, and that it is starting to exercise an ungodly influence on us. Our walk with God is a moment by moment thing. What we are asked to do is to know God and his ways, and to wholeheartedly pursue Him, and His ways (cf. Mt 6:33).

    Our economic consumption may be a problem, but so might be the TV and movies we watch, or the games we play, or our workaholism, or putting family over God (cf. Lk 14:26). The list can go on and on. Similarly, the problem might be the way we treat people, not what we do with things, or what we do with our time.

    There is something more subtle about following God that needs to be considered.

    And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first. Matthew 19:29-30 (NRSV)

    Should we all do this? No! Jesus is making a point about heavenly rewards. All of what we do will be tested.

    Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 (NRSV)

    The point is that what we do will have different value in the Kingdom of God. Paul pursues the best, but sometimes the best is the best in our situation in life. Paul tells us that it is better to be single, and some have interpreted this to say that priest cannot marry, which is not what Paul said. If we leave all to do the Lord’s work, that might result in great reward. But that does not invalidate the life choices of someone who decided to honor God by getting a job, buying a house, and raising a family.

    For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. Matthew 15:4-6 (NLT)

    “…cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition…” Wow! There are principles in the Word of God that can guide us in every situation, whether we are living with families or are out church planting in some remote areas of the world. The Pharisees were adding to them, and were picking and choosing which ones they preferred. In so doing, they were “cancelling the word of God.” Interestingly, greed was behind their choices, if you look at the verse closely. They were asking for generosity at the expense of compassion.

    Greg ends by giving a wonderful example of “radical faith.” Sadly, all too often, “radical faith” is presented as the “new norm” and those who are led otherwise are left to feel second class.

    We should not be preaching “radical faith” (cf. Mt 6:4), but we should be teaching how to faithfully walk with God.

  7. Petey J says:

    Hi all,
    Have been loving this series. Somewhat alternative the a “normal” Sunday message I have heard in some places I go!

    I have tried to live a radically simple lifestyle the last few years since graduating. From living under a tarp with a backpack doing conservation work in the southwest to working/traveling through Ecuador and Peru with nothing more than a 30 liter pack, it has been a great adventure.

    I currently occupy the space of (literally) a walk-in closet while holding a profession and was wondering if anyone would like to meet after a Sunday service to discuss practical tips/ideas about living counter-consumeristic.

    I will shoot this message to the info. email too, but feel free to contact pjensen(AT)hill-murray(DOT)org if that is something you would be interested in!

    living simply so that others can simply live –

  8. Michelle says:

    Thank you Greg.

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