Regardless of how 2020 ended or how 2021 began, one thing we can be certain of, we are living in a time like no other. Most of us want for nothing. In fact, I would go as far to say that the scraps of “stuff” that we discard would be a treasure to many others across our globe. Not only do we often find ourselves living in excess of “stuff”, we also live in excess of information. We are bombarded daily with information. From fact to fiction, we have information readily at our fingertips with literally a simple click of a button. Who would have thought that we would have the key to learning just about anything available on a device that could fit into our pocket? My fellow Generation Xers and earlier can remember the mammoth card catalog in the library. This was our source for information! How many of you can go a single day without “Googling” something? Just like anything else, something intended for good can become a hindrance if used excessively or in the wrong manner.
We have become a people who are consumed.
There are so many ways in which we can define the word consume. Most commonly we think of consuming in terms of eating or drinking. As consumers, we use our purchasing power to buy goods and/or services. But what about when consuming moves from a tangible conscious action to an all-encompassing sense of being?
Matthew 28:18-20 articulates what is commonly known as the Great Commission. After Christ had risen from the dead and before he ascended into heaven, he gave his disciples a mandate to go and make disciples of all nations. Over two thousand years later, as Disciples of Christ, we are given that same mandate. The message of Christ has not changed, the manner through which we can communicate that message has.
When we think of the word “go” it implies some sort of movement. As people we “go” lots of places… well, maybe not in 2020, but generally speaking. Some of us find our mission field across international borders while others are in a local mission field. Some missionaries find their mission field within the four walls of his/her own home. After we “go”, we are next instructed to make disciples. How does that look? Well, if you’re a parent you will understand that the will of a child anywhere from the toddler to teenage years is unrivaled. As adults, we’re really just teenagers with more years of experience. Our job as a witness for Christ is to share His word and what He has accomplished in our lives. When anything we “consume” is in direct opposition to His word, we damage our witness. The sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross becomes secondary to our desire to live as we choose.
I often think of the phrase GIGO — garbage in-garbage out — as a practical application of consumption in our culture. We cannot expect to yield a harvest of righteousness in our lives if the only thing we feed ourselves is garbage. The Bible illustrates this concept in a couple of ways. In Matthew 13, the parable of the sower, Jesus speaks about the seed of God’s Word being scattered in a number of manners; all representing the conditions of the heart that is receiving them. As Christians, we both spread seeds of truth and have seeds of truth sown in our lives.
In chapter six of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we are challenged by the relationship between what we reap in regards to what is sown. How can we expect to pour righteousness into the lives of non-believers if we feed on the junk of this world? Jesus tells us in John 15 that He is the vine and we are the branches. We are nourished by the Vine. We produce fruit when we abide in the Vine. Can we be both consumed with God and the things of this world? Nope. If we fail to abide in the Lord and truth of His word we cannot produce fruit. Without fruit we cannot reach a dying world in need of a Savior.
What does this look like in today’s culture? Well, 1 John 2:15-17 explains what our relationship with the world should be. Are we choosing to be “of the world” rather than temporarily “in the world”? I remember a former pastor saying that you could determine the heart of an individual by looking at his or her checkbook. I think that you can expand that idea to include social media. What does your social media presence say about you? Would someone know your political party of preference before they knew your love of the One who saved you? Words have the power to give life or death (Proverbs 18:21). What do you consume? Do the things you “like” bring glory to God? Does what you “share” tells others that Jesus is your first priority? We are given a finite time here on earth to serve an infinite God. Let’s alter our consumption to reflect our mission!