Lent Devotions: Consumer culture

Design by Doug Puller/Bread for the World.

Editor’s note: This Lent season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).   

By Tad Hopp

Matthew 6:1-6; 16-21    

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” What does that phrase even mean? Does that mean I shouldn’t buy that big screen TV I’ve been eyeing at Target? Does that mean that I shouldn’t spend a week’s pay on frivolities? Perhaps it does.

As a society, we spend so much time being consumers. We buy and we buy and we buy. There’s even an entire day devoted to the very act of buying things at really cheap prices. Yet, do we feel any happier after we have bought these things? Are our lives any fuller or richer? Yes, that new flat screen HD television sure does look nice, and now we can watch our shows and actually see all the details on the screen. That sure does sound nice, doesn’t it? But again, does it actually make us any happier?

As I look back over my 30+ years of life, it hasn’t been the material possessions that I’ve most treasured (although I do love my laptop and my TV!). It has been the experiences I’ve had. The late night study sessions. The dancing all night with my seminary classmates. The road trips with my family. The 2-hour phone calls with one of my best friends. The nights out singing karaoke. These are the things I remember most. These are the things that I will treasure. These are the things that can never be destroyed by moths or stolen by thieves. These are where my heart is.

This Lent, I encourage us all to be consumers of heart memories. Make some memories with your friends. Share some special times with your family. Carve out some time to watch your sister’s ballet recital or to celebrate your mom’s birthday. Go on a road trip with someone who is special to you. You won’t regret it. You’ll regret more the trips you didn’t take. The concerts you didn’t attend. The times you forgot someone’s birthday.

We only get one trip around the sun. Do we really want to say that we spent it hoarding possessions instead of treasuring memories?  

Tad Hopp earned a Master of Divinity degree in 2015 from the San Francisco Theological Seminary.

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