Producing or Consuming?
Angie and I receive some wonderful email each week. It always amazes me at how the website gets around and who looks at it. With the change to the new site a few months back we not only can see the hits on the site but also statistics of what pages are popular, which articles get read the most, and general locations that people are in who are reading. If you look at the “Map of Visitors” link on the bottom you can see how many states and countries have visited. We often get letters that prompt us to write articles, messages and answer questions. This article came from one such letter. The question was “should Christians be like the world in being consumers or should they be different as producers?”. In other words, “is there some mandate for Christians to be different and if so why aren’t they?”.
If you are a Christian, and I hope that you are, the question should bother you. It came from someone who was struggling with the modern church but seeking God. This person failed to connect with a church that seemed no different than the group at the local mall. The people they met in churches seemed to be interested in getting more out of this world than making sure they got out of this world. That concerns me.
Whenever I write about such things I tend to offend certain people. I get replies and comments that tell me they are offended that I would mention their church and that they just love their church and that their church was different than the rest. Other comments tell me that if I ever found a perfect church as soon as I walked in the door I would make it imperfect. I agree. I sense a problem in all this. One side has made their church out to be God Himself and fail to see that they are inLaodicea. The other side is so lackadaisical that their motto over the door might as well be “No ones perfect, don’t worry about it”.
You see, when someone turns on the light for a person who has been living in the dark there is an immediate hurting in the eyes. It’s not comfortable to have truth shown to you, especially when your pride wants you to believe that you are a good person or that your life is right. When questions come in like the letter I’m talking about it makes me really shudder that I might be wrong. What if I am in need of correction and have lead people astray? Please keep an open mind today and follow me through the Word of God.
The Church has a lot of reasons to be different than the world but the greatest one is because He wants us to be. Jesus wants His Bride to shine in a spotless gown and be pure. When we are Born-Again we come into new life with Him. We Spiritually become a new creature (2 Cor5:17). We must begin new as a baby and learn to think differently. We gain the Holy Spirit living inside of us and He prompts us with the Words of God (if we are reading our Bibles like we should) and warns us when we do something wrong. We have “conviction” of sin that didn’t happen before this new birth. Before, we could live as every man on earth and never feel any guilt. After the New Birth we suddenly must question motives, desires and life choices.
Again the question is “should Christians be known as consumers or producers”? You know, we are known as one or the other when someone meets us. If you met me and you see that I wear designer clothes and jewelry, have an automobile that is high-end and the little lady on the passenger seat is dressed to the nines you would perceive me as a consumer. Perhaps I did produce something in my past that made me a lot of money. That money obviously changed me and I have become a consumer. It doesn’t matter what I think of myself. You would see me as worldly and carnal. Let me clarify something-everyone is a consumer of sorts-we all buy things. We all produce something, too. What I am speaking of is what we are known for.
If I drove through your church parking lot would I see a witness to what is in you hearts? Would there be testimonies to greed and lust in each parking space? You’d be surprised and what things testify about your life. A wise woman once told me “don’t let your garbage can testify against you”. When she made that statement I literally backed up and my mouth dropped open. She really made me think. I went home and told my whole family that we had a new goal to reduce garbage. My logic was simple. If we used less and recycled more there wouldn’t be as much in my garbage can. We actually reduced our garbage by four bags a week. Now, we stopped consuming as much and produced more here on our farm. We are still looking t ways to reduce.
Now, I know some of you are afraid that I’m leaning toward worshiping “mother Earth and forgetting Father God. On the contrary. I believe that since God made our Earth we should love and respect His creation. We should take care of what He has made. Look at Genesis chapter one and verse twenty-six. Here is a verse where God told Adam to have dominion over the animals and to subdue the Earth. This verse has been misinterpreted by those who want to use, abuse and make refuse of the earth. They believe that they can do whatever they want to with anything on the planet and that God is pleased with their actions since He gave it to us anyway. Let me put it in relative terms so that you can appreciate what I’m saying.
Suppose a father makes a beautiful bed for his child. He hand carves the headboard with intricate patterns and spends many days on the project so that his child will have a heritage that will be around for many years after the father is gone. Lets also suppose that he tells his child “this is your bed to have and use for your complete pleasure”. One day he walks into the bedroom where he notices this child cutting his name in the bedpost with a pocket knife. Do you think the father will have the attitude that it was the child’s bed to do with as he pleased? I know one thing-If it was me and I had spent hard labor on making something beautiful for my child I would be hurt if they abused it.
Look at that scripture again. God said that man should have dominion over the earth. We immediately get the idea of rulership. If you were given a country to rule over would you be a good king? Would you harm the servants and rape the land for your own profit or would you manage everything to increase so that there was more at the end of your reign? Do you see yourself as the kind of king who would be loved by the people or despised? When you think about that verse I pray that you will see that God gave the Earth to us to rule wisely over it.
Thinking along Creation what about animals? Look at Proverbs 12:10- Solomon said that a righteous man regards the life of his beast. Literally it says that he “knows the soul of his animals”. It was against Jewish law to be cruel to animals. Hunting is never done in the Bible for sport but only for food. Animals were given many rights along side their owners such as rest on the Sabbath (Exodus20:10). Even now, kosher slaughtering of animals requires that they are killed as quickly as possible and with as little suffering. If something goes wrong in this procedure the meat must not be eaten. Christians should never harm animals.
What other scriptures do we find on being good stewards and producing rather than consuming? Let’s look at Luke chapter 12. Beginning with verse fifteen Jesus gives a warning that we must be cautious of coveting things. He gave a parable following about a man who had a prosperous garden. It produced so much that the man had enough to store up and live work free for many years. Immediately, you might think that there is nothing wrong with this. Doesn’t it sound like prosperity? Don’t we all want to arrive at this location? Isn’t this success? Apparently not or Jesus wouldn’t have given us warning about coveting. Suppose you and I found ourselves with a sudden fortune. What would we do? Would we quit work? Would we have a great party and consume all we had to the fullest? How about charity? Would we give to the poor or forget them?
God didn’t create us to sit idly by and consume. As long as there is ability in us we should be doing. I sometimes hear quotes that sound really correct until you stop to ponder them. A while back I saw a bumper sticker that said B.U.S.Y. meant being under Satan’s yoke. I immediately thought that I should relax and take it easy. After all, I didn’t want to be under the enemies yoke. But then I realized that God called us to stay diligent. We are to remain alert and keep our hand to the plow until the plowing is done.
I have noticed that in history there is a vicious cycle within certain societies. First, there are people who struggle to exist. They are humble and call on God to help them. In their humility He hears them and answers their prayer. They work and toil and are blessed in fruitfulness until they reach a place where they are like the man in Jesus’ parable. They sit back and tell themselves that they have many years left and to enjoy life. In their prosperity they forget God. They no longer remember that He provided the increase.
The next thing that happens is that men become so full of themselves that God removes His hand of blessing and protection. There is a downward spiral while many of them are still trying to find out how to save the Stock Market without ever calling on God or allowing His place in their lives. They believe that they can be successful on their own and need no God. Until they reach the bottom they never seem to have wisdom to call out for help. The last thing that happens is the first thing above. Men reach a point of struggling and begin to call out to God for help. The cycle begins again. It is a vicious circle round and round.
I want to finish today with Matthew 7:15-16. Jesus said to beware of false prophets who appear in sheep’s clothing but inside are ravening wolves.
The term “ravening wolves” sure sounds like consumers to me J. Jesus said that the false prophets would be known by their fruits. As I said at the beginning, we all produce something. It might be that we are known to be people who take and never give back. We may have never reached out to the lost but only were concerned about out own family. We are wrong to do this. God didn’t call us to be “our four and no more” Christians.
What is your fruit today? Do people know you as ravening wolves? Are you seen as a producer or a consumer? May the Lord bless you as you seek Him.
Prayer-Father, I pray for those today who have allowed the things of this world to become their god. They have forgotten that You alone are God. May we all forget trying to reach success and put our effort into reaching You. I pray for those who have a difficult time letting go of material things. May you show them the joy of giving and the peace of trusting You with their lives.
In Jesus’ Name-Amen
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