The Shopping Channel

September 15, 2009 — Leave a comment

“We must watch that we do not degenerate into being simply consumers of blessing rather than channels of blessing.”
Selwyn Hughes in Everyday with Jesus: The Spirit-filled Life.

I’ve just finished doing a year’s worth of shopping in two weeks, which is about as awful as eating a year’s worth of calories in the same period [I didn’t quite do that, but I did eat a summer’s worth of corn on the cob and blueberries]. I came prepared with my shopping lists sorted according to type, and then set out on the grand mall and box store and strip mall tour, turning into a consumer with a capital C.

I went to the stationary store, the sports store, the office supplies store, the electronics store, the home décor store, the grocery store, the drugstore, the toy store, the bookstore. I did a fair amount of this with a 19 month old who has decided she is done with strollers and shopping carts unless she is pushing them. This turned out to streamline my shopping a lot, though I did have to return a few hasty purchases bought under Lucy’s five second stopping limit. [In fact, Lucy may be the reason why my bags weren’t overweight for the first time in ten years.]

So in the midst of my shopping fest, when I read this quote from Selwyn Hughes, it struck a chord with me. Of course, he’s talking about being a spiritual consumer. But that too is easier in the States with all the Christian books, cds, churches, concerts, seminars. So many choices, so much to take in. And not much exposure to the dire needs I see every day in a third world country.

There’s nothing wrong with consumption. I need to eat and drink and wear clothes and watch Yes Man. And just about everything I bought is designed to be eaten, read, listened to, worn, used–in short, consumed. In another year, I’ll be ready to go back and replace my empty bottles of vitamins and aspirin, my muffin cups, my lost sports socks [though hopefully my beaded coasters from Pier One –75% off!–will still be going strong].

On the other hand, if I unpack my suitcases and put everything on a shelf only to gather dust and be eaten up by paper moths, my house is quickly going to get very stuffed. Think about a blocked intestine or a swamp that has become bug-infested because the feeder stream has been taken over by beavers. So much in life needs a clear free channel to work properly.

I think the same is true spiritually speaking. I can spend time praying for my needs, reading the Bible for comfort, going to church to worship and have fellowship. I need to do that for my spiritual health. But along with taking in, I need to give out. I need spiritual exercise so I won’t become spiritually bloated. I need to serve and give to people in need, I need to pass along the love I’ve received from God so I won’t turn into a self-satisfied person only concerned about what I can get from God. I want to be a channel for God’s blessing, not a dead end.

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