I remember not too long ago the story about an elderly person trampled on Black Friday. There are many stories that turned out the same. I can see the person who took the first step in those red shoes as she pushed her way to the shiny blue pair, completely ignoring the elder WalMart greeter who was trying to open the door. The elder person, as some remember these stories, does not fare very well. This post is giving us a reason to avoid Black Friday due the way our culture treats it.
Reason 1: They told me to do it.
Businesses love to sell. They advertise very well. If you look at almost every college, there is a degree in advertising. Things get made and they have to get off the shelves. In and of itself, trying to advertise well is a good way to make sure our economy runs. So it’s good. Until you reach the point where hype creates hysteria. Black Friday advertising is about creating lines of anxious buyers who will hurry up and buy everything. The only bad thing is that some of these buyers are overly anxious and will do anything to get the item they want. The news reminds us of that almost every year.
Reason 2: I can get quality time any other day.
One phenomenon of Black Friday is that we will spend an entire free day fighting to get a sale. It has not always been this way. People originally used this day to spend time with family and friends. Relaxation. Football. Even turkey sandwich masterpieces that defy all reason. That seems to be missing these days. Families and friends are replaced with great sales, door busters, and some occasional black eyes. (If I’m getting a black eyes, it should not be from someone trying to get the last porcelain cat decoration
Reason 3: The perfect sale
“I’m saving money!” the lady said. Most people do not seem to realize that these sales are like most sales at the end of every month of the year. If you pay close enough attention and study the websites and papers, they do not seem all that great, especially when you compare them to normal prices. You want to save money, then wait.
Reason 4: I’ll crush you.
This is the attitude people can develop towards each other during this sale, particularly when two see the last item at the same time. And this is where the bruises start. That’s not to mention the poor souls that get hurt trying to open the doors to let customers in (such as the elder person earlier in this post).
Reason 5: I’ll build bigger barns.
What do barns have to do with anything? Jesus told a parable about a rich man who had so much crop one year that he decided to tear down his barn and build bigger ones so that he could store every last bit of it (Matthew 6:24-28; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 9:23-27). That does not sound bad to the 21st century American Capitalist, but to Torah believing 1st century Jews like Jesus, this was like murdering a helpless person. In the first five books of the Old Testament, God speaks through Moses to tell the Jews to only go over crops once and leave behind the rest for orphans, widows, and foreigners/immigrants (Leviticus 19:9-10).
As the story goes on, the rich man is killed by God and the wealth of crop is assumed to go to whoever needs it. In other words, God’s will is done and the helpless get help.
The way this applies to us is that in our culture we think that we can spend money and resources any way we choose. And we can get resources and money and keep it by any means necessary. This is not what the Bible teaches. Had the rich man in this story worried more about his relationship with people in his community, he would have been able to take part in God’s plan of love and kindness instead of being moved out of the way.
Try doing something different this year.
Spend time outside.
Throw the ball with the kids.
Take a hike.
Take the morning to nestle up to the love of your life.
Sit down for a minute and read Revelation 17-18. Place yourself in the shoes of the merchants. Ask yourself what you would do if you learned that what you were doing was actually causing pain and was a danger to your spiritual life. Then ask yourself what you would do if what you were doing was what would get you into trouble one day. Remember, it’s not about how many toys you have before you die, but about how you shared the joy of those toys with others as you lived.
Grace and peace to you all.
- Ben Witherington, Jesus and Money
- John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life
- About anything from Shane Claiborne