Christians and Materialism
It's one of those days when I'm dissatisfied. I don't like what I look like. I don't like the stuff in my room. I don't like my boring life.
I need more stuff to feel better. To feel new.
I go to the mall because it promises to help me. The Gap, J. Crew, Anthropologie, American Eagle. I can't miss.
At Abercrombie and Fitch, the posters on the walls show clean-cut guys playing touch football with shiny-haired girls. They're having a blast in plaid shirts and khaki pants. One girl has a big sweatshirt tied casually around her thin waist—a cute tomboy. They're laughing in that picture, the clean-cut boys and the shiny-haired girls. They're having more fun in their Abercrombie and Fitch clothes than I've had in months.
At The Athlete's Foot, a picture of Michael Johnson hangs over a wall of running shoes. He's won his second Olympic gold medal while wearing his gleaming gold shoes. The message behind the image is clear: There's nothing greater in life than winning. With some hi-tech shoes of my own, maybe I'd feel like less of a loser.
At Anthropoogie, the brown-and-green sweater on the skinny mannequin promises to make me look thin and trendy. The sales girls are so cool in their wedges and vintage-inspired skirts. If I looked like them, wearing that close-fitting brown-and-green sweater, I might have more dates.
At J. Crew, I see a girl with bleached hair and red lipstick. She's eyeing a black mini-skirt covered with sequins. I wonder what great party she'll wear it to. I wonder what's it's like to be that cool.
But she hangs up the skirt and walks out of the store. She can buy all the black mini-skirts in the mall, but that won't fulfill her.
And I realize the mall can't change my life either. I don't think of myself as a materialistic person. In fact, I buy lots of my clothes at thrift stores. I drive an ugly old car. My friends even tease me about being cheap.
Still, I find myself wanting things. Not because I need them, but because they seem like they'll make me more interesting, more exciting. Like somehow, the stuff I own can change the life I have. When I look at the ads in magazines or on TV, that's what stuff promises me: A better life, a better me.
Yeah, I know it's just hype, but a part of me can't help but believe those promises are true—at least a little bit.
But I'd like to think I'm a lot more than my stuff. I'd like to think my friends like me because I'm funny, nice, and easy to talk to, not because I have cool clothes. I'd like to think I can like myself even though I don't have the latest music or the hippest shoes. I'd like to think I have value because I'm me, not because I have the "right" stuff.
When it comes down to it, I know that the promises of the mall are false, because I've been given another set of promises: God's promises. The mall tells me new clothes can make me more attractive, more acceptable to others. But God promises that I'm his wonderful creation (Psalm 139:14). Nothing I buy can improve on what he's created.