by Marc Wallis
First there’s Black Friday (which now starts on Thursday apparently).
Then Cyber Monday (which lasts a full week it seems).
Then #GivingTuesday (which is, you may have guessed, today).
That’s a lot of fancy sounding day-names. Perhaps you’re still a bit delirious from all the Turkeyday tryptophan – but it can feel a little confusing. What does it all mean? What is #GivingTuesday? And more importantly, why?
The common thread between the three is that, on each, you are challenged to do something – something that will cost you.
On Friday and Monday it is to stop, shop and buy.
You are shown things you never wanted, but that you now need, simply because they’re 90% off with free shipping and batteries included (I sound like a grumpy old man I know…just go with me here).
I went online yesterday to buy a few house supplies, yet somehow ended up purchasing a new FitBit (which will track the fact that I’m sitting on my butt buying crap online vs walking to an actual store), a Shake-Weight (maybe I’ll strap the FitBit on that to get my steps in) a Hoverboard , Fire-Insurance for my new Hoverboard, a Candy Crush Scented Phone Case (I wish I was making that product up, but I’m not…and it probably smells like sadness…), an Amazon Echo (so that our computer-overloads can better track everything I say, do, buy and think) and this elegant marvel of modern engineering . Ok, maybe I exaggerated a little with my list…but I was very tempted to buy all those things.
See, this system (of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals) makes sense to us. It speaks to and facilitates our need to acquire, to collect, to consume – especially when it’s at half the MSRP. Yet this constant pattern of searching for more often goes unnoticed. It becomes an assumed process. A given paradigm. An ubiquitous reality that is part of the fabric of our culture and collective DNA.
That said, I’m definitely not the first to ponder all this – or posit that maybe we love to shop, to buy and to consume because we’re trying to fill a sometimes subtle sometimes screaming emptiness that is often hard to describe or name or notice, but that drives us nonetheless.
We think the new thing acquired – whatever it is – will bring us the satisfaction we seek. Sure, we know it won’t last forever, but that hit of dopamine feels good…at least for a moment, which is better than nothing we reason. We can always buy the next thing, or eat the next thing, or drink the next thing, or date the next thing, or watch the next thing, or do the next thing, or take the next thing when the first feeling fades.
We may not say it aloud but our actions reveal our deep-seated belief…or maybe it’s a misguided hope…that we can somehow buy happiness. That we can purchase purpose. That we can consume our way into a life worth living. It makes sense in a way, but countless generations of those who’ve gone before us cry out that it’s a sham and a shackle. A marketing ploy and a prison. A simple Holiday Sales gimmick.
The truth is that we do not gain through consumption.
On the contrary, it is via the counter-intuitive course, the revolutionary road, the footpath of the seemingly foolish – the way of Jesus – which says to gain you must give.
To find yourself you must lose it first. To love is to lay it down, only to take up that which is better in the end. ‘Tis more blessed to give than to receive said the Master himself.
So while Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday all ask us to give up some of our cold hard cash, I’d like to think #GivingTuesday – which was created to encourage people to donate to charities, nonprofits, churches and local leaders doing good work for others – represents a fundamentally different mindset.
One that suggests we need not be slaves to our money, but instead, can choose to use it to fuel goodness in this world rather than just feed our appetites.
There are real needs all around us. Real hurts. Real brokenness and real confusion. Chief among them is that we are alone and unloved. Makers Church seeks, through the brazenness of the Gospel, to conquer those lies with a more powerful truth that we are profoundly loved, and called into beautiful futures full of life, purpose, creativity and hope. And that the story of Christmas – the story of the God of the Universe stepping into human history to save us from ourselves and show us a better way – proves this.
When you give to Makers Church you help multiply that very mission, as well as help fund ministries for local refugees in City Heights, humanitarian projects in Mexico, clean water and school uniforms for kids in Africa, YoungLife activities in San Diego and so much more.
So on this #GivingTuesday, we ask you to consider moving more into freedom by giving rather than merely consuming. It doesn’t even have to be to Makers! But we do challenge you to give somewhere good because we firmly believe that choosing generosity can change the giver just as much as the receiver, and sometimes maybe even more.
As this Holiday Season begins we challenge ourselves and our community to consider all we have as good gifts from God, and to step more and more toward a life of generosity and gratitude fueled by the goodness and grace of Jesus knowing that when we, together, give of ourselves, the world is made better.