Thursday, September 12, 2013

Duck Dynasty and the Idol of Consumerism

First, I want to say that I have enjoyed watching the show Duck Dynasty recently. You could call me a fan since I purchased the first two seasons on DVD. It is family-centered outdoor fun that ends with prayer each episode. My son Elijah loves watching Jase catch bullfrogs and has attempted it in our local pond. The Robertson’s appear to have a clear testimony of Christ from what I have heard. All this is good.

But I do have some concerns that the whole fascination with Duck Dynasty may not be helping American Christians with certain idols of the heart (cf. Ezek 14:3). The main idol I am referring to is the materialism in our culture.  This hit me the other day when I visited a Christian bookstore. There were two product displays: one was full of Duck Dynasty trinkets. The other was a child sponsorship display for World Vision and some other orphan care ministry. They were at opposite ends of the store.  They reveal opposite mentalities I believe: the consumerism and wastefulness that characterizes our culture that will soon be forgotten on the one end of the store and the sacrificial, generous giving that has eternal rewards on the other end.  

Now I’m not anti-capitalist and I am genuinely happy for the Robertson’s who have worked hard to build a business. And they may give their wealth away very generously to missions and the poor. But how often do we Christians pour out our money on things that in a few years are almost forgotten and sold at a garage sale? That is my prediction of what will happen with Duck Dynasty t-shirts and bobble heads that are being bought right now. In five years they will be hawked for a couple of bucks, lost or thrown away.  I once volunteered to work a booth at a Christian music concert in the Deep South. The well-known group sold over $13,000 in merchandise that night. That was ten years ago. I wonder where that $13,000 in merchandise is today.

The words from the Prophet Isaiah are well worth meditating on:
“if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.” (Is 58:10)

Remember, this is coming from a guy who has already spent $20 on Duck Dynasty DVDs. I have a long way to go in pouring myself out for the hungry and afflicted. But I do want to battle the idol of wastefulness and consumerism that rages in my own heart.  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Solid Gospel Foundation

The house I currently live in was built over 100 years ago. It fits our family well, but structurally has a foundation problem. The foundation is hodgepodge: a mixture of brick, cement and dirt. It looks as if it was put together in phases, using whatever material was available in the late 1800's. So our floors are quite uneven, which I occasionally use for putting practice. 

This phase in my life is foundational. In my early 30's with young preschool/elementary age children, we are building a foundation in our home.  Entering my third year of pastoral ministry, I'm building a foundation in the church. By the grace of God, I want to build a solid foundation of Christ and the gospel. Some of the Christ-centered gospel "material" I'm using is the book of Galatians, which I'm preaching though this fall, and Matt Chandler's book The Explicit Gospel which I'm reading now. Chandler noticed something troubling in his church among those who are in the foundational stage of life:

"What I found was that for a great many young twentysomethings and thirtysomethings, the gospel had been merely assumed, not taught or proclaimed as central. It hadn't been explicit" (p. 13).

It can be easy,convenient and cost effective to build a foundation with hodgepodge materials. But the problems are noticed years later, even a century later, as in the case of our house. The same is true with the foundation we build in our homes and churches now. It can be easy to build a hodgepodge foundation, using only the materials of our culture. A consumer mentality, with extreme self-focus and little thought about Christ is what the average twenty and thirtysomething is building with right now. Sadly, this is true in many of the homes and even churches in our culture. When Christ and the gospel are absent, the foundation will crumble at some point. It may be years down the road, but it will crumble eventually. 

Jesus said this very thing in Matt 7:24-27. A hodgepodge foundation did not work 2000 years ago, or 100 years ago, and it will not work today. Paul also understood the solid foundation was essential to build in life and ministry: 

"But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Gal 6:14).