Black Friday: When Materialism Turns Into Idolatry

Black Friday is the culmination of idolatrous consumerism.  Not because someone wants to shop for a discounted item, but because of the underlying demeanor in the build-up and unraveling of Black Friday.

I confess, I do not have much Black Friday experience…  Last year we made the mistake of going to the local mall on Friday after Thanksgiving sometime in the mid morning, only to turn back home because we could not find parking.   Apparently you had to be there before dawn to get in line.  There are places where lines form days in advance!  These people sacrifice the Thanksgiving holiday and a night in a warm bed for a terribly unpleasant shopping experience.

Why?  Because they will save $200 dollars on a deal?   The average amount spent by the average Black Friday shopper is less than $400, so will a $200 saving really make that much difference in their lives?  In order to answer this question lets look at the things that happen during shopping on Black Friday because they help elucidate who we are as humans.

Shoppers get into a mindless and manic frenzy to the point where an apparel store can look like a category 4 hurricane just went through it.  In the busy stores one can see anger, greed and self elevation at the worst.  It starts with shoving, shouting, and it progresses to cursing, verbal fights, and fist fights.  In extreme cases there have been reports of shoppers and vendors being crushed, stepped on, and it seems like every year we hear reports of fatalities as a result of stampedes and lack of crowd control.  All for an average of $400 of merchandise!

At the core of the issue is human depravity and the worship of self.  The shopper is tricked into thinking it is all about “me, myself and I.”  The goal of the entire Black Friday exercise becomes less about buying a certain item, but beating out your competition to that item!  In some situations, pushing and stepping on another human being becomes part of the process… but it matters not, the depraved shopper must beat his competitor at all cost.

Greed coupled with anger is one of the most potent evil combinations of all human emotions and we see it on display during Black Friday Idolatry.  I call it idolatry because it comes down to serving, satisfying and elevating the self.  It all started with the fall of man after he was created perfect in the image of God.  Man was tempted with becoming just like the One who deserves to receive all worship, and the temptation proved too much.  And on Black Friday we are still dealing with the consequences of appeasing, elevating, and worshiping the self as exemplified by the demeanor and actions of the shoppers.

So, should Christians go and compete in the long lines and spend their $400 today?  If you do, just remember that you do not belong to this world and you must act that way.  Remember that lost people will act lost no matter what the situation, so do not be surprised when you see individuals fighting over that $199 “complete” home theater system, or that discounted video game.  You will see human depravity on display which will remind you where you once were before the Holy Spirit led you to the new birth.

Think of Black Friday as an opportunity to see how God has rescued you from this materialistic and idolatrous world, and how He made you realize that all glory and worship belongs to Him.

“whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1Cor 10:31