“This is my body, given for you.” “We are the body of Christ.” The Church loves the body of Christ. Indeed, we are called to live in holy community and dedicate ourselves to loving the body of Christ (our fellow Christian brothers and sisters). Yet, how often are we in the body of Christ, and leave our communities to indulge our own bodies without the slightest bit of self-restraint?
Recently, I was having a conversation with my father-in-law about movie piracy. As a twenty-something growing up in the digital age, music and movie piracy is my birthright. As we spoke, I repeated an anecdote I had heard years before on the now-canceled “Attack of the Show.” If I wanted to watch Jurassic Park in HD and pay for it, I couldn’t find it anywhere online! No digital download, no legitimate streaming service had it. However, one search on a piracy platform, and I was watching those raptors in glorious high definition, at no cost to me. I finished my anecdotal argument and waited for the response. I asked him “what was I supposed to do? I couldn’t pay for it, my only option was-” he cut me off, answering me with “did you ever think you just shouldn’t watch Jurassic Park?”
As silly as this conversation was, it highlights my point. We indulge our bodies without a second thought, instant gratification is the promise of the gigabit-internet enabled streaming service. We don’t listen to albums anymore, we listen to singles. We don’t read books, we read headlines on Twitter. There is not enough hours in the day to take in all the entertainment we want.
I leave the office and I have to decide, will I play FortNite with my group of friends? Or will I read one of the thousand books on my carefully crafted reading list? Where and what will I inhale down for dinner, so I can get back to my life of consumption?
The Imago Dei has been lost in Mega Church culture as consumerist, pragmatic philosophy has seeped into our spiritual lives. Why lead our congregants to repentance and discipleship when we can have more services, with more lights, better sound and more dynamic speakers than ever before? In a way, we’ve called out this phenomenon before, but perhaps we’ve gone about it the wrong way. The problem is not that our services are too elaborate. A trip through Europe would show classic structures with stunning architecture and ornate detail work. We’ve had beautiful and over-the-top worship anywhere Christianity has been allowed to flourish. It is the attitude we espouse towards these decorations and productions.
What if the problem isn’t simply that our services have become more showing-off than telling the Word of God? What if the real problem lies at the heart of our technologically enabled gluttonous appetites for MORE? How can we see past our appetites to contentedly enjoy God when Twitter blasts us with hashtags about the latest political injustice? How can we be content with God when we are too busy begging, and striving and thirsting after what we think is God, but really is just our appetite for God?
We need more Christian books, more articles, more deep exegesis, more podcasts, and more cynical quips from the Babylon Bee. We need more criticisms of the church, and definitely more sabbaths. What if we took a sabbath from consuming? The Body of Christ is at risk of becoming obese from our consumption. The real problem is not the content, it’s the quantity. I personally feel the temptation to spend 20 minutes in prayer and in scripture, and 3 hours listening to apologetic lectures and speakers. The content is not the issue, it’s the quantity. How do we consume God? Is it possible that in our zeal for God, we’ve made an idol out of His body? Instead of worshiping Him for what our pastors have taught us, we listen to more podcasts. Instead of reading scripture, we read inspirational devotionals sent to our emails.
Our culture of consumption has corrupted our appetites. In John 6, Jesus declares to the crowd, “Come to me all you who thirst, and you will never thirst again.” Let us take the time to be content with God. Let us take the time not just to read our Bible and to pray, but to then simply be content with God. Let us seek His presence, and then after seeking it, dwell in Him. Let us thank God for all He has done, and then let us live in that thanks. The Lord lives with us, He wants us to be with Him, but not to strive for Him.