I found myself thinking at times this week, I'm so glad I'm not working retail anymore. Ministry can be hard. But i think there was something about retail at Christmas, that gives you some unique insights into greed and materialism. Working Black Friday was always hellish. It was profitable as a commission salesman, but it was hellish. It was materialism on display, and people treated you like a tool to give them the "stuff" they wanted. Usually the ones that got there the earliest were the most obnoxious. It never failed.
But it didn't stop at black friday. It went on all Christmas season. At Christmas, we get some of the worst displays of obnoxious, materialistic behavior. So often we miss the reason for the season, because we are seeking stuff. But why is that? Why are we on a stuff hunt? In part, because we are looking to stuff, to provide what only God can give you. We look at stuff to stuff to get an identity, and standing, and acceptance. We give stuff to get an identity, and standing, and acceptance, as people say how wonderful you are and how much they love you, and we look to stuff, and think, how will this make me feel, and look, and if i get this, it will make me content. Consequently, we go crazy to get and give stuff. And we become ungrateful, and materialistic. I remember one year when i was young, i looked at my Nana, who had just given me all kinds of wonderful gifts, and i turned to her and said, is that all? To my everlasting shame. I get tormented with this story at least once a Christmas season. Just so i wont forget (or something).
Unfortunatly, it doesn't do what we want it do. Stuff doesn't make us happy, or content. It wont fill the void that we are looking to fill with stuff, with materialism. What will? The only thing that will fill the void is to find the acceptance of God in Christ. Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 6:6 that "godliness with contentment is great gain". It's only when we see that Christ gave up everything, he gave up the contentment, love, and acceptance of the Father, He gave up the throneroom of heaven, so that we might gain the riches of heaven, the love and acceptace of the faither, that we will find that the center of our being that we are trying to fill with stuff, is filled. When we turn to Christ, and hold to Christ, we find that that fills us at the center of our being, and it makes us truly contentment, frees us from materialism, changes how we approach Christmas, changes how we approach gift giving and receiving, and fills us with true hope and joy at Christmas (and it means you can be nice to the cashiers at Christmas to).