With all of our family out of town this Thanksgiving, the kids and I spent a quiet day together. We played board games, watched the Macy's Thanksgiving parade, and watched a little documentary called What Would Jesus Buy? that we got from Netflix.
The basic plot of the documentary is that this guy Rev. Billy (whom I suspect is no "real" reverend at all) led a group of protesters on a nationwide tour to deter Black Friday shopping. They had created a whole musical based on this concept. Rev. Billy portrayed a charismatic preacher and his choir sang some (quite catchy, though corny) anti-shopping songs. We even began to sing, "Stop shopping! Stop shopping" along with them.
Unfortunately, rather than being what I really wanted the documentary to be -- a look at why Jesus is more important than gift buying -- it was more of a look at how big business has taken away from small-town shopping. I have my qualms with Wal-Mart, but I am not on a crusade to close them down.
I also take the documentary to task for its "funning" at Christianity. I'm all for parody -- I have that kind of twisted sense of humor. But Rev. Billy's prayers that became mocking and showy were rather offensive to me. They did allow for me to discuss with the kids how we should make sure that our talking about God and our prayers are sincere and not something that we're doing for show. 'We have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk' is the understanding I want them to have.
The overall concept of the documentary, however, is worth contemplating. I love a deal as much as anyone else. As a matter of fact, people who know me well, know that I seldom buy anything that isn't on sale (preferably clearance), use my coupons and reward points, and love cheap, cheap, cheap. I actually am not a Black Friday shopper because I start scouring clearance racks much earlier in the year and am almost done with my Christmas shopping before the Black Friday deals get here. I also don't have the nerves, sanity, or patience to deal with the crowds. I do understand the draw of the big sales. I do understand wanting to give your kids a good Christmas and with as tight as money is these days, the big sales give you a better opportunity of doing that. My dad claims that he felt very thankful when he got both an apple and an orange in his Christmas stocking as a child. I don't think that would float these days at all.
But at what point do we realize that Christmas is about more than big sales and gifts? What would happen if Christians put as much energy into spreading the love of Jesus as we do in rushing the front doors of stores. I read an article online this week that questioned this as well. The writer of the article asked "What if on Black Friday, there was a shopocalypse and all the Christians rushed out to help the less fortunate or to spread God's love?" Are there even enough Christians left in our country for a shopocalypse to make a difference? Are we totally consumed by the materialism that our culture shoves down our throats?
I'd love to see a revival in our country. I'd love to see people not just claiming to be Christians, but being Christians -- not the ridiculing "YOU ARE A SINNER SHAME ON YOU" message, but the God loves everyone and we are all sinners in need of grace message. I'd love to see Christians be able to "come out of the closet" and boldly proclaim our faith without fear of being ridiculed or being accused by society of not separating church and state (which ironically, never was intended to be a dictate that religion could not be in the "state affairs" but that the state couldn't tell us what religion to be -- but that's a whole other can of worms.).
Even if you hit all the sales this year (and I'm still hoping to get some great deals too), take a minute to stop and remember what this season is all about. God sent his Son so that you could be forgiven of all your sins and receive his FREE GIFT of eternal salvation.
And if you want a good, only mildly irritating, break from the holiday rush, check out What Would Jesus Buy? I'd love to hear some other impressions about the film.