02 September 2011

A Closer Look at Shopping Malls

“Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy
things they don't want, to impress people they don't like.”
- Will Rogers

Consumer behavior is greatly influenced by advertising and marketing that target our identity, and tell us that we are what we buy. It also focuses on our social status, and compares what we own to our peers, neighbors, and co-workers. This only proves once again that we are living in a material world.

No Cash Needed:

Shopping malls are one of the biggest sources that feed our problem of materialism. TV commercials, newspaper ads, and retail signs, scream the messages of discounts, bargains and remind us that all credit cards are welcomed. If you don’t have a credit card – no problem, many retailers offer instant credit. And of course, all malls and department stores make ATM’s readily available.

When I was growing up, we had seven children in the family so we couldn’t just take off to the mall and buy whatever we wanted. Mom and dad planned ahead for major purchases, so they could pay cash. In those days credit was not encouraged. If there was something special I wanted that was not a necessity, I had to earn money to pay for it. I used to do a lot of babysitting for my extra spending money, and remember having such a sense of pride when I had saved up enough to pay for a special purchase.

I once read an article that described shopping malls and department stores as “temples of goods.” How true... it doesn’t take much to become slaves to our debt. It is my belief that if we can’t have everything we want at the swipe of a credit card, we begin to appreciate what we do have and with that comes a certain satisfaction and contentment. And one thing this journey has taught me is that when we become content, PEACE follows!

What the Bible tells us:

“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave” (Proverbs 22:7).

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).

Mall Theology:

As I was writing this blog, I came across some sermon notes I had written a few years ago. The sermon didn’t have anything to do with materialism, but its lesson seemed to fit well with our talk about shopping malls.  Below there are four categories of people you may find at a shopping mall. In each category, I will compare 3 groups of people: A = shoppers at the mall, B = followers with Jesus, and C = students (anyone) studying God’s Word.

A = This shopper goes to the mall just to watch people and hang out.
B = This follower of Jesus had no investment with people. They were in the crowds just for show, but the next day they would be somewhere else.
C = This person is not sure why they are studying God’s Word, or attending Bible study or small group. They have no investment in learning and don’t put forth any effort, just like to hang out.

A = This shopper likes to browse but has no intention of buying anything. They switch malls constantly.
B = This follower of Jesus left when the price got too high. They had no investment in eternal life and asked God, “What do you have for me?”
C = This person does the basics, just what needs done. They cut back on daily devotions and prayer time.

A = This shopper wants things but doesn’t want to pay the price. They may even make shoplifting a profession.
B = This follower didn’t want to be Christ-like, they just wanted His stuff (power). They wanted the benefits without relationship, or without paying the price.
C = This person wants the end result (the degree, the tools) without doing the work. In the end they are not transformed by Holy Spirit.

A = This shopper’s attitude is “I know what I want and don’t care what it costs.” They are willing to pay the price, to make an investment.
B =This follower was called by Jesus. They were willing to take up the cross and follow Him.
C = This person does what it takes to be transformed, is willing to pay the price, and longs to become more like Jesus.

Now it’s time to take a personal inventory. When we evaluate where we are, it helps us change our ways or set new goals to get to where we want to be. Whatever type of shopper you are really doesn’t matter, but the real questions are ... What type of “follower” and “student” are you?

It’s Friday, Let’s “Sparkle”... action required ... Since this is a holiday weekend, many people have time off of work and will be visiting family, or getting together with friends. Let your attitude (joy, peace and love) reflect His Light in all that you do... walk the walk of faith. Remember: You may be the only Gospel someone ever reads.

Happy Labor Day weekend everyone... stay safe, relax and have fun!
God’s Peace, Donna Weaver

“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be
undertaken with painstaking excellence” – Martin Luther King Jr.

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