Over the past year and a half there has been much said about 'hope' in our country. This has caught the attention of many people, either because of the biblicalesque-sounding nature of the word or because we all have hopes for various things. But things might just be the problem here . . . we often have hopes for things which we can attain for ourselves that are simply for our own amusement, entertainment and self-gratification. Hope has been diluted to such a pathetic level that we seldom capture the greater meaning of advent, Christmas or even gospel.
One of the lynchpins came during a recent reading/exposition of Revelation 18, where we see the destruction of Babylon (representative for the entire 'people of the earth') and the lament which is offered by those who lead and worked in that civilization. It appears that those who vocalize their pain only do so because they have lost their manner of profiting from the illicit relationship they had in this prostituted relationship. Their listing of losses demonstrates a society which was focused on its own luxury at the expense of humanity or the divine.
And then it struck me that this is the culture we have created in our own borders. Though I believe that we have a good number of people who are willing to give and sacrifice and reach out, the overwhelming sense in this past year is that we should attain anything we desire by any means necessary. This means we will elect whomever we need to elect, appoint those who can expedite our desires, and stand in long lines all for the sake of getting . . . so long as it comes from someone else's 'stash.' What has happened to the Christmas spirit?
Our consumer culture has lost sight of Jesus and his self-giving approach to life, found in his admonition to love God and love others. In the place of Christ we have set Santa Claus, because he gives us whatever we want (so long as we can laugh off all of those areas where we were 'naughty' instead of 'nice' - it is a merit system of sliding scale). Jesus, on the other hand, isn't interested in gaming systems or iPods, televisions, automobiles, dinners, parties, new kitchens, cruises, or any other luxury items which exist for the benefit of heaping blessings upon ourselves instead of others.
Yes, we have fallen in love with this Santa figure. Will we still be in love with him even when his entire character can be summarized in Scripture which speaks of the anti-God presence in the world?