My brief reflection on Steve’s “First World Symptoms”

Firstly go and read Steve’s blog post here.

Here are my Reflections.

This is an absolutely brilliant post from Steve. This sums up so well that which has become intrinsic to our Western Culture’s DNA. Unfortunately though, when something is written about the west, I can’t stand at an arms length and withdraw from the fray.

I am Western and I am a product of Western Culture.  John Walton in his book, The Lost World of Genesis One (I’m reading it at the moment, hence the quote), explains.

“…we do not borrow the idea of consumerism, nor are we influenced by it. We are consumers because we live in a capitalist society that is built on consumerism. We don’t have to think about it or even read about it. Even if we wanted to reject its principles we would find it difficult to identify all its different aspects and devise different ways of thinking… [Consumerism] is simply absorbed through the culture in which we live.”

Anyway, all of that is to say we, even us in the Church (I know shock!), are culpable. Our hands are dirty with the stench of first world symptoms. However just as this first world problem seems to be life draining there is an alternative that is in fact life giving. As Steve mentioned we are invited to drink from the fountain of living water, that is Jesus.

This blog from Steve is quite timely. I am preaching this week at a church on the Rich Fool Farmer and the Kingdom of God found in Luke 12. In this passage Jesus tells a story about a rich farmer in response to a person’s #firstcenturyproblem (mind the pun for all my twitter friends).  Anyway the brunt of the story is this. Life is not how much we earn, nor is it how comfortable and over indulged we can make ourselves, life is about Jesus and seeking his Kingdom (playing our part in living God’s rule and life giving reign here on earth). This is the solution.

But wait there’s more, Luke 12:32 “Don’t be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the Kingdom.”  What more of an invitation do we need to step out and rid ourselves of the baggage that comes with living in the west. Seek God’s kingdom, but know it’s already yours, don’t spend your life worrying, or complaining. Choose Jesus.

We are to daily Choose Jesus, We are to daily choose His Kingdom, give it a go, it may even prove to remedy our #firstworldproblems.

2 thoughts on “My brief reflection on Steve’s “First World Symptoms”

  1. You say, “I am Western and I am a product of Western Culture”… And of course this is correct. We are influenced by, and influence, our culture. How could it be any other way? Perhaps the trick is being able to be bound in vital union with God YET not seen to be so different to others that we are irrelevant? I’m thinking Hudson Taylor in Chinese dress & pigtail; John Smith in his colours, astride his Harley. Will Church understand our practices to engage society? Will society allow us to engage with it? Could we end up outcast from both; not fitting in either sphere? Perhaps. But maybe there’s just no other way to show that we aren’t drawing running water from our own dug cisterns, but demonstrating the life-flow that comes from ‘living water’, even Jesus? Anyone can fake it in an accepting environment. Yet flowing, living water, in cross-cultural settings… now that’s something. Thanks for your post, Ben… I was gripped by both your, and Steve’s, thoughts. Keep it up!

    1. Totally hear you Joe. And that is where I think God’s promise, “that he’s given us the Kingdom”, coupled with a discerning ear tuned in to the Holy Spirit is vital. The promise because it’s an invitation to step out and experiment with ways of being a Christian living in the West, knowing that God’s Kingdom and my place in it aren’t going to crumble if I make mistakes. Secondly with a discerning ear tuned into the Spirit, we can listen out to opportunities or promptings from God, that we wouldn’t usually, with our western hat, or our church hat, see. I’m thinking something like a Peter and Cornelius example here. Thirdly I must add that we need to have our ear tuned to the culture we live amongst as well. And we can’t listen to our culture from our ivory towers, we need to live in our culture. Listening to our culture, say Paul in Atherns, is where we see the need and where we can show Jesus who fills it. Basically we are invited as Christians to get our hands dirty for God’s Kingdom, and He’s there with us.

      Just some quick thoughts.

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