“Purchasing our redemption”

March 25, 2011

Whether or to what extent I agree with this philosopher’s ultimate (and deeply pessimistic) conclusions shouldn’t obscure the fact that this is a very funny and thought-provoking video (who is the artist?) about the shallow and self-serving nature of consumerism. I do love the art. It would be fun to preach with an artist simultaneously illustrating ideas on a nearby whiteboard. Hey! Can anyone out there do that?

Since I’m always stealing ideas from Kevin, read his post first. Then read the Slate article about present-day efforts to help Japan. Then read about the same problem from the opposite political perspective, an oldie but goodie about Live Aid from the very funny P.J. O’Rourke, here. (Sorry, it’s only an excerpt, but I hope you get the idea. You have to buy his book Give War a Chance to read the whole thing.)

The point is that there is often something very self-serving and even unwittingly harmful about what we do on behalf of others. It’s the nature of sin and evil. Isn’t this why Jesus warns that when we give alms, we don’t let one hand know what the other is doing? We so easily glorify and deceive ourselves.

As I said a few years ago after a short-term mission trip to Mexico (relating this Wall Street Journal article to my own experience): We shouldn’t imagine that by building homes in Mexico, or any other third-world nation, we’re helping to “solve” a problem, without also realizing that we’re part of the problem. In spite of this, I strongly believe that we should go and build! Even if these trips are “mostly about us,” they probably need to be. We need to change, even as we make a small but important difference in the lives of the people to whom we seek to minister.

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