11.26.2012

We're Not Being Greedy Enough This Season

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Almost as popular as hitting the stores on Black Friday is lamenting the materialism, greed, and inanity associated with hitting the stores on Black Friday.  As for me and my family, when we hit the shows and shops on Friday and Saturday, I was delighted to see so many fellow shoppers out, for it is a sign that the economy is improving and that Philly retail is looking up.  (Three holiday seasons ago, in contrast, things were eerily and discouragingly dead.)

But it is true that this holiday season can be marked more by materialism, greed, and inanity rather than wonder, reflection, and peace.  The onrush of advertising, deals, and stuff can seem so strong that the only meaningful response is to hole up, be on guard, and scoff from the sidelines, lest we get swept up by it all ourselves.

Let me offer another, more proactive approach for those of us who fear and follow God: be more greedy, not less.

Let me explain.  God is far more glorious, His presence far more satisfying, and His call on our lives far more demanding than anything we usually settle for.  When we are tempted by gluttony and materialism, let those things be less tempting not because we want less but because we want more, and gluttony and materialism are far too little to be satisfied in.  Or as Christian author C.S. Lewis put it:

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and to earnestly hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I suggest that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

We are far too easily pleased.  This season, let us neither give in to gluttony and materialism nor do so by shrinking our hunger for more.  Rather, let our hunger for more be for more of the things that are worth feasting on: goodness, justice, mercy, and the great God who strives for them with and for us.






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