Shop 'til You Drop - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Everyday Living Faith
November 24, 2017

Shop 'til You Drop

Here are two contradictory trends to try to wrap our heads around.

In 2016, 137 million shoppers in the United States spent well over $650 billion from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, according to data from Adobe, which tracks data from online purchases across the top 100 retailers, and the National Retail Federation. Experts predict a 4% increase in spending this year.

In October 2017, a Harris Poll of over 2,000 American adults reported that nearly seven in 10 respondents would give up the holiday gift-giving tradition this year if friends and family agreed. Forty-three percent said they feel pressured to buy gifts and spend more money than they can afford.

What is going on here?

Instead of experiencing an extra measure of peace and joy at Christmastime, people are feeling anxiety and pressure to spend, even to go into debt. And most people don’t want to feel this way; they want to meditate on what the incarnation of Jesus means, spend time with loved ones and make timeless memories. And they would do so, if others in their social circles would agree to it.

Christian pastor and prolific author Max Lucado, interviewed by Outreach Magazine, says, “Our level of anxiety is increasing and particularly in the United States… It appears that children these days feel the same level of stress as the average psychiatric patient of the 1950s.” He blames two phenomena, “Our secularism is increasing, which removes God from conversation, and our levels of information exposure are increasing – bad news reaches us at such speed that we have no time to digest it.”

What we seem to be missing is a basic truth that Christmastime should amplify: God is sovereign and master of the affairs of humans. The ultimate proof of that truth is Jesus; “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14

Whenever we feel out of control, whether under pressure to buy more or more expensive Christmas gifts or when the brokenness of the world enters our consciousness yet again, we need to remember that Jesus Christ is Lord and God is on the throne. Satiating ourselves with more retail therapy until we drop never is and never will be the solution to what ails us as human beings. Throwing our hands up and letting our tears fall in despair will not change who God is and how much He loves us.

So, let’s step off the crazy cycle of American Christmas and reject the tit-for-tat, gift-giving rat race. Instead we can witness to a broken world in need of solutions that Jesus Christ came to free us from anxiety and materialism. We can resolve the dissonance of pressure to spend more and the desire to experience what makes Christmas so special by sharing His love with others this year.

Geneva College is an institution that does all of its work of equipping students for faithful and fruitful service to God and neighbor under God’s Word and grounded in the biblical, Christian intellectual tradition. For more information about attending Geneva, contact Admissions at admissions@geneva.edu or 800-847-8255.