So, instead of separating people into classes such as producers and consumers, we must encourage everyone to move toward being “communers.” – Paul Louis Metzger
I love this quote! There’s a real danger with adopting a production based, or overly consumeristic approach to doing ministry, whether that be in or outside the church. It seems that within our current culture the balance that we so desperately need between to camps is rarely found. Instead we have one group asking: what do you have to offer me, and the other asking what can I do or make? Both of these questions should be asked and answered, but never without consideration of the other.
In the Garden after God created both Adam and Eve in his image he then said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” (Gen. 1:28) God then goes on to mention all the things he’s given to Adam and Eve for food. He gave them dominion over every living thing, and in so many words said: produce, tend, and consume. His provision was intended to draw them into deeper communion with Him, and each other. He didn’t intend that we would produce, tend, and consume without Him, or without others. All these things should be done while moving towards being communers. Both Adam and Eve were created out of this reality. It’s this reality that we’ve been born into. It’s not until we sever ourselves from this communal reality of the body, and Christ that we become unbalanced in our approach. So, how does an overly consumeristic or production based approach effect our unity with God, one another, and the church?
What do you have to offer me? Ceasing to commune and only consume. “Consumerism diverts us from thinking about women’s rights, it stops us from thinking about Iraq, it stops us from thinking about what’s going on in Africa – it stops us from thinking in general.- Pink. This quote sheds light on why we choose to consume instead of commune. A consumeristic mentality keeps us shallow in our walk with God and with each other. It keeps our expectations and commitment to unity virtually none existent…It keeps us obsessed with temporal gain, and ignoring the eternal realities of the high priestly prayer. Ceasing to commune and only consume is only one part of the issue. After all there would be no consumption without production, and production based approach can be just as dangerous.
What can I do? Ceasing to commune and only produce; a production based approach keeps us in a supplying in order to meet the demand. Production first, relationships last. It allows use to freely use people (those with less or no power) to keep producing whatever product the empowered culture wants. This enables us to further oppress, and sever ourselves from those within our body that we’ve been called to serve, love, and suffer with. Once the unity within our body is severed, it becomes easier to separate ourselves from God, who’s image is a constant reminder of those we’ve consumed to validate, and make relevant our presence to the world as the church.
How do we balance being consumers and producers while keeping our call to commune at the center of our mission?