con-sum-er-ism noun \kən-ˈsü-mə-ˌri-zəm.
"The promotion of the consumer's interests."
America is a country steeped in the philosophy of Burger King: "Have it your way." We are quite comfortable with this. In fact, we've grown to expect it. Of course my barista should serve up my Hot Triple Grande, Whole Milk, Extra Caramel, Caramel Macchiato the moment I walk into Starbucks. They know me. They know what I like.
"I like" -- It is the consumer's mantra. We hear it in church all the time:
- I really liked the message today.
- My kids really like the youth program at our church.
- I like the way we do worship.
- I don't like the use of the old hymns.
- I like the worship leader. He is so hip.
- I like the series we did last year.
- I don't like how big the church is.
- I don't like how small the church is.
- I like his sense of humor.
- I hope we'll like it.
- We'd like you to "Like us" on Facebook.
I wonder how "I like" would have played on Patmos.
Do you remember John? Jesus' best friend, writer of the gospel, the guy who carried on the sidebar conversation with Jesus at the Last Supper? That John! At the end of his life, John was exiled to Patmos, a rough and rocky island inthe Aegean Sea, about forty miles off the coast of modern Turkey.
How did he like it?
It really doesn't seem to matter to John. He was captured by a vision that was bigger than himself. He was captured by a picture of Jesus:
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands,and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire,his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters.In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Revelation 1:12-17 ESV
Is it wrong to have likes? Are preferences ungodly?
I wonder if we are asking the wrong question. In his book, Renovation of the Church, Kent Carlson writes:
As I see it . . . we become a part of a local church to have an encounter with the God who actually exists. And it must be a very small God indeed who can only be encountered at a church with a vibrant youth program, killer music and specialty coffee drinks in the lobby. Obviously, the danger is that we are choosing the church we attend not primarily to meet God but to satisfy our perceived needs. There is no way this can be good for our formation into the image of Christ.
This weekend . . . it's not about "I like" -- it is about Jesus.