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I saw this movie a few months ago, but I found today an appropriate time to reflect on it.
It was an interesting watch. And I haven’t talked about it until now because I didn’t really think too highly of it. Let me unpack that a bit.
I half way agree with the movie and the message presented. Well… I’m going to nitpick this film and say that there are a few things that I can gleam from it, but ultimately my thinking comes from outside the movie and not the movie itself.
If you’ve never heard about the movie it revolves around a “personality” (for lack of better term), who goes by “Reverend Billy”, I use quotes due to the fact that I am not convinced that Billy is a Reverend of anything other than his own admission. He has a “church” if you can call it that, that embarks on a mission to spread the message of “buy nothing” around the country on a 2 week pilgrimage of sorts from coast to coast.
It is shot in a documentary style and I believe that Morgan Spurlock of SuperSize Me fame was one of the producers on the film. You can sense his fingerprints on much of the film.
While I whole-heartedly agree with the idea of trying to spend less as a consumeristic society during the holiday season, I have to completely disagree with the methods and even the message that this film portrays. I won’t go into the details of the exploits that the “church” goes on during the film, but overall I felt that they were mainly annoying and actually somewhat offensive in getting their message across. In my mind I compared them to “street evangelists” who stand on street corners and accost people walking by, without relationship or understanding of who the people they are trying talking to or trying to get their message to.
My main beef with this film, is there is no substantial justification for why people should buy less, other than America is a greedy, affluent, consumeristic culture. To me this explanation lacks substance and depth. More so, if this is a so called “church” I don’t recall hearing anything about Jesus, at least in the sense of how Jesus would respond to poverty in other places in the world or his reaction to the current cultural climate of America. As much as I kinda don’t want to say it, it lacks gospel.
Also there is no call towards alternatives. We do not see the urging for people to seek out those who have less and divert their spending from goods to needs. If I have to be a proponent of a buy nothing style of life. It is absolutely going to be inspired by Jesus and the work of God. The simple call of meekness and compassion. It is one thing simply not to buy anything, yet it is an entire other thing to give your time and energy and money to causes that are working to help those who can benefit from out abundance. When I read about Jesus, I see someone who was attune to the poor and disenfranchised, the others and outcasts. I see someone who challenged the social norms for the benefit of the Kingdom. When I think about the things that God cares about I find a deep sense of compassion to know people and be known by people. Not to blindly shout at people and hope that my words and not my relationship will change people’s hearts and minds.
Being passionate about a cause is something that I respect, and seek for my own life. But I have come to a place to really try and stop and examine my motives and my methods. We muse be able to listen to those around us, before we speak. We must earn trust through relationships before we even think of expounding our views and attitudes. This is the Jesus whom I follow. The Christ that knows the inner heart and life of a person who he interacts with. A God that knows the number of hairs on our heads before he desires to call us his own.
So What Would Jesus Buy? I don’t think it would be nothing. I think it would be gifts that empower, instill hope, give dignity, and show unconditional love. Jesus shops to transform, he shops to heal and he shops to give undeserving grace to those who need it most. All because he loves us, more than anything in the world.
Today I celebrate the birth, life and death of Christ. Whom has changed my life all for the better. I give thanks to a God who is greater than all understanding and who I can only hope to know a little more each day. I promise never to have it all figured out, and I am sorry for when I seem like I do. I seek your forgiveness, grace and love, on this day, the day Jesus was born. Blessings to all of you.