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A thought-model worth buying into

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

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Living in a consumerist culture means being marketed to, paraded with brands, encouraged to buy and buy again, and educated to think that people are defined by the products they purchase. Some would say this is the ultimate economic model. And, yes, one indication of a healthy economy is the exchange of goods and services. But one common model is built on the premise of selling satisfaction and then breeding dissatisfaction – the idea that you want a particular product, and eventually you'll need more. Several questions underlie this marketing model that can influence the consumer. Questions like: How does this product define me? What will it give me? What do I have to do to get it? How long will it last? Can I have it now?

A recent Christianity Today article, "Jesus is not a brand" by Tyler Wigg-Stevenson (January), pointed out that with so many people accustomed to such a consumer mentality, it can be difficult to separate this from our religious lives. He puts forward this sobering observation: "In a marketing culture, the Truth becomes a product. People will encounter it with the same consumerist worldview with which they encounter every other product in the American marketplace."

A closer look at how a consumerist approach applies to our thinking – and impacts our spiritual lives – can be eye-opening, especially when the "product" is our understanding of God or Jesus' teachings.

To truly know the Christ is to understand and selflessly practice the truths Jesus taught. His message, he promised, would satisfy forever. To the woman from Samaria, whom he met at a well, he said: "Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again. But no one who drinks the water I give will ever be thirsty again. The water I give is like a flowing fountain that gives eternal life" (John 4:13, 14, Contemporary English Version). Jesus' message of truth changes the consumer questions to emphatic statements of truth: I am defined by God. I am satisfied and need nothing to complete my life. I have all that I need right now, and it is forever new and fresh. I am patient and whole. These statements point to one's spiritual identity and defy the materialistic model.

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