Christmas is Upon Us

December 6, 2009

Christmas is upon us, and the good people over at the Onion are prodding American materialism in their wonderfully sarcastic tone in the article “New Device Desirable, Old Device Undesirable“.

“The new device is an improvement over the old device, making it more attractive for purchase by all Americans,” said Thomas Wakefield, a spokesperson for the large conglomerate that manufactures the new device. “The old device is no longer sufficient. Consumers should no longer have any use or longing for the old device” (New Device Desirable, Old Device Undesirable)

As we kick off our Advent calendar, let me prescribe some contrasting perspective to the Onion.  I enjoyed reading Ryan Topper’s post on Christmas from last year again today as well as this quote from Bruce Metzger’s book Consuming Jesus:

“[The powers Jesus came to free us from] come in many forms, including…the American enterprise and its demands for individual self-fulfillment and consumer preference.  Jesus confronts and conquers the powers and the laws by which they wield power: he refuses to play by their rules and masters them rather than being mastered by them.  These fallen powers have lost their enslaving grip on people because of the new world order that Jesus has inaugurated in his death and resurrection” (Metzger, 70).

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Have you ever felt like a salmon?  Weird I know, but this quote did just that for me:

“[The powers Jesus came to free us from] come in many forms, including…the American enterprise and its demands for individual self-fulfillment and consumer preference.  Jesus confronts and conquers the powers and the laws by which they wield power: he refuses to play by their rules and masters them rather than being mastered by them.  These fallen powers have lost their enslaving grip on people because of the new world order that Jesus has inaugurated in his death and resurrection” (Metzger, 70).

Its like Metzger just rolled back the  curtain on both American culture and the startling holism of the atonement.  Essentially, the point that is being made is that Jesus death on the cross did not just pay for my sins and change my legal standing before God, it also secures and declares the victory of God over everything–whether it is ideas, institutions, fallen powers, etc.  As Metzger points out, Jesus makes us free, not just from sin and death, but even from the brokenness of a fallen system like America’s current consumerist mentality.  Jesus has freed me from lying and lust, but he has also freed me from the American dream, from thinking of me first, from fighting to retain my upward mobility, and from becoming an upper-middle class family with a white picket fence, two point five kids and a gold fish.

Don’t get me wrong–I am not saying these things are inherently evil.  What I am saying, is that when Kate, Jude and I step on a plane in a couple of weeks, we will doing so in the full freedom of Christ.  What a refreshingly large vision of Christ and his work!  What a worthy revisioning of the reality Christ has made possible to those who love him!

Maybe this is just another step that God is bringing us through to help us prepare to unplug from American culture.  Maybe I will eat these words later on when we have spent some time getting aquainted with the Dutch dream.  Either way, I can only imagine that I have a lot more to learn about being a citizen whose allegience lies with the King who will return at the end of all things.

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