God is not a CEO who feeds into our endless consumerist appetite

We can’t go anywhere, even if we walk from one room in our home to another, without seeing an advertisement trying to sell us something.  Turn on the television, open the newspaper, click a button or two on your cell phone or laptop, and there you will see a product that you think you need.  Right now.  This instant.  Click it, charge it, ship it, done.

Advertisements have one goal in mind: entertain and inspire you (or, more likely, your children) to consume, consume, consume.  No wonder, we have an insatiable appetite for consumption.  Businesses shape our culture and our visual experiences on a daily basis; we have become a country of consumers.

Consumerism is so pervasive, that we now see it as a form of entertainment.  We go to our favorite stores for fun.  Retail therapy, some call it.

Since advertising has infiltrated every aspect of our lives, we also feel that church should be equally entertaining and titillating.  Churches are not in the business of entertainment; they do not exist as just another product for people to consume.

A church is a place in which Christians and seekers come together in a sacred community to glorify God.  This is true worship, the heart of worship.

Worship is connected to the word, liturgy, which comes from the root word, laity, or people.  Liturgy means “the work of the people,” a people who respond to God’s mercy and love in ways that express their love for God.

Liturgy is something we do for God’s sake, not for our own sake; though, it does benefit us because it allows us to fall deeper in love with God.

Worship reminds me of my marriage.  When I am with my wife, I am not so selfish as to always ask what she can do for me and presume she will always meet my needs.  I diligently seek to meet her needs in order to bless her and express my love and admiration for her.  It is not transactional–I don’t expect anything in return.  I bless her simply because of the fact that she exists and she is my beloved.

Don’t get me wrong: Worship is not supposed to be irrelevant either.   Ministry teams must craft worship services in which churchgoers glorify God in dynamic ways.

But notice that this goal does not intend to entertain or meet the perceived wants of churchgoers; it intends to reveal the deeper needs of a community that is longing to escape the endless cycle of desires and wants that advertisements in our world promote.

We come to church because we are tired of buying things and buying into things that will not satisfy.

I have been to churches that are boring and cold; I have been to churches that are so entertaining you forget you’re at church.  Authentic worship is somewhere in the middle: It motivates laity participation, demands personal sacrifice for the greater good of the Body of Christ, inspires a pursuit for God’s holiness and righteousness, and provides an open atmosphere for all types of people to work out their salvation in fear and trembling before an awesome and mighty God.

Our temptation in worship is to domesticate God and make God into our image–a God who resembles a giant, jolly mouse that makes our dreams come true.  We cannot control God, for we are made in His image for His purposes.

Let us pursue–in word and deed, worship and mission–His will for our lives, so that we are not merely entertained by a puppet God, but are experiencing the love of a God who truly satisfies.

Published by Joe LaGuardia

I am a pastor and author in Vero Beach, Florida, and write on issues related to spirituality, faith, politics, and culture.

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