Consumerism vs. Kenosis

Clearly, we live in a consumer oriented world. We are conditioned without realizing it to ask, “What’s in it for me?” “What will I get out of this?” Perhaps appropriate and even wise for economics and stewardship but when it seeps into relationships (which is the very essence of life, not economics), it can spell disaster. We can end up looking at people as products to be consumed rather than seeing ourselves as the products to be poured out in loving sacrifice.

Jesus said, “the Son of Man (a reference to himself) did not come to be served, but to serve.” (Mark 10) In Philippians 2, the Greek word “kenosis” (translated “emptied”) describes the concept that rather than looking his equality with God as something to be used to his own advantage, he emptied himself (poured himself out). This reference to the idea of being poured out like an Old Testament “drink offering” again speaks to the opposite of a consumer mentality.

An ancient prayer, spoken by Francis of Assisi, expresses the heart of a “kenosis” response to life:

O Divine Master, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;
to understand, than to be understood;
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.

The reason for kenosis is not duty or obligation or anything but the sheer joy embracing our created design, and the only way we enter into this joy is through the direction and leading of the Holy Spirit in overcoming our consumeristic tendencies. Let’s pray Francis’ prayer that we might seek to love (kenosis) rather then seeking to be loved (consumerism).


~ by Ted Wueste on September 12, 2011.

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