Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Consumption of People

This is another excerpt from my sermon on Consumerism that I'll be giving at dia•spora this coming Sunday. I cut this bit from the message, but am looking forward to exploring these themes more fully in the future.


You know one of the greatest temptations of power is to treat people like functions and not like people. Have you ever worked somewhere that you knew management, or the person at the top, couldn’t care less about you as a person? All that matters is your productivity and you are only as valuable as the function you serve. Have you ever gotten that message?

This is, I think, the greatest evil of consumerism. In our hot pursuit of productivity and profitability, people become positions. You are not an image-bearer of the living, Creator God. You are simply a part of the machine. It doesn’t matter who you are, just get the job done.

This is satanic. Anything that dehumanizes people is straight from the pit of hell. And the worst part of all is that this kind of crap goes on in our churches all the time.

A friend of mine was a pastor at a big church that had multiple services, and part of his job was to preach about once a month. And, without fail, every time he spoke the senior pastor would come to him between services and just criticize every little thing he did, from the way he prayed to the way he read the Bible to how he phrased some random sentence from the sermon. And then my friend would have to get right back up and preach again in a half hour, and if he didn’t make every change the senior pastor demanded you better believe he got an earful Monday morning. After years of this he just couldn’t take it anymore and quit.

This was a gifted person who was driven away by a man who could only see him as a function. He got chewed up and spit out because the senior pastor could only see him as a function and not as an image-bearer of the living, Creator God. And this kind of thing happens all of the time at churches all over the country.

Big churches. Little churches. It doesn’t seem to matter. Churches consume people. Sometimes the senior pastor is a megalomaniac. Sometimes the congregation is incessantly demanding of their pastor’s time. Sometimes we place too heavy a burden on our volunteers. Churches are notorious for burning out sound guys. We chew people up and we spit them out, and all too often people leave a church so hurt that they even give up on God.

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