Black Friday Boycotts Don’t Make Us Better Disciples

Did you join the chaotic, claustrophobic hordes of bargain hunters, sacrificing time and sleep to save a few bucks?

Or did you stay home–decrying the combatively materialistic post-Thanksgiving furor that erupts every year?

It probably doesn’t matter.

I’m becoming increasingly struck by how sensationalistic American discipleship has become. We flock to prominent, event-driven causes, adding our voice only to what is already a cacophony of screaming sounds.  These mass efforts create a sense of unity and purpose that further ignites the embers our passion, fanning our conviction into a furious blaze of devotion…which generally burns out as quickly as it was kindled.

More and more, this is how we understand discipleship. Much to our own loss.

Worship becomes a concert. Lifelong leadership became a Promise Keepers rally. Teenage virginity has been purchased through True Love Waits ceremonies and expensive rings, even as it’s been sold to the highest bidder by those same youths through a thousand costly decisions. Purity comes from character, not ceremonies. We demonstrate more concern for chicken sandwiches, civil liberties, and one-day appreciation rallies than we do for those who are obviously lost and hurting. We approach spiritual disciplines with the same unbridled enthusiasm that an alcoholic  devotes to his New Year’s Resolutions: unimpeachable fervor fueled by guilt, followed by the inevitable dilution of daily life. Sunday morning messages instill wisdom which prompts promises of action, only to see those same promises scuttled on the shoals of Monday morning pressures.

Even our conversions are just more of the same: a passioned response to a temporary event, often yielding no authentic change in our everyday life.

And so, as the old muse once said, the story of our discipleship becomes a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

C’mon, we have to admit that this is getting silly! Let’s stop pretending that the choices of one day suddenly usher us into the radical company of Shane Claiborne or the indulgent excesses of Trump.

Instead, let’s practice a more costly discipleship; a discipleship that refuses to define our walk by one day’s choices (good or bad), but instead sees every day as an opportunity for obedience, sacrifice, and blessing. Let’s practice a discipleship that doesn’t bounce listlessly from one event to the next, but instead draws its focus and passion from Him who judges justly.

Black Friday doesn’t matter in the long run. It can be boycotted or enjoyed in one single day, with one simple choice. Costly discipleship, on the other hand, takes a lifetime of arduous effort and exhausting self-sacrifices, accentuated along the way by countless celebrations–all of which are punctuated by thousands of seemingly inconsequential, virtually unobservable, everyday choices.

Which will you focus on?

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About Tim Owens

I'm a husband, father, and Christ follower. I also live in Albany, NY, where I work as a pastor.
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