Spiritual emptiness can manifest itself in countless ways, but in our culture, one of the ways it reveals itself is in shopping to find fulfillment. This is the kind of shopping that seeks to medicate a dry and thirsty soul with consumer products. In a consumer culture like ours, fulfillment shopping is exactly what we should expect.
Many people will head home tonight to a home full of beautiful things. They will sit in front of a television screen several times larger than the one they had growing up. As they bask in the glow of its artificial light, surrounded by countless purchases they thought would bring them joy, they will be empty and numb, looking for the next trinket that will be able to give them a spark of life. The experience is so unfulfilling that they will add a second source of light to the process; their phone.
Subconsciously, they will be wondering what this life is all about. The TV and phone will stream content that saps their spirit by seducing them with signals that say there is ultimately no meaning in life, so they should look to the excitement of fame, riches, and unrestrained sexuality to fill their souls. Oh, and the only way you will ever find the fulfillment you seek is with the right products.
Ken Myers said it best when he said, “Popular culture is unimaginable without mass media, which is, in turn, unimaginable without advertising, which would not survive in a cultural climate that places a premium on modesty, chastity, frugality, simplicity, and contentment. So those virtues will necessarily be alien to popular culture, even if the people wanted them there.”
The next time we find ourselves looking to buy something to relieve the boredom of our lives, remember, we are the ones being consumed. In a consumer culture, even the consumers become a commodity. Never forget, they are preying on your emptiness.
It is a secular philosophy of life that says, as messed up as we are, humans are not in an abnormal state. We are evolving creatures, and there was never a time when we were more glorious than we are now. So, if you look around and see the desperation, it is essential to remember this is the best secularism can offer. Add to this the problem of guilt, and we are in real trouble.
We all deal with guilt, and our culture has no remedy. In denying the fallen nature of man, guilt is merely a feeling, not a reality. To the secularist, the conscience is the end product of a long line of evolutionary and social conditioning, so when it bothers them, they are not guilty of anything. As James Sire puts it, they are only guilty of guilt. Feelings of guilt are the problem, not a violation of moral principles. The goal is to rid ourselves of the feeling of guilt instead of the guilt itself. Of course, the therapeutic answer is to follow your heart. Let it lead you to fulfillment, which will mean acquiring more consumer goods to mask our emptiness which only leads us further into despair.
The biblical remedy is to look around and realize things are not how they should be. Man is not in his most glorious state; something is seriously wrong. Sin has touched us all, but unlike the secular worldview that leaves us in our despair, the truth of Christianity lets us know that even though we have fallen and are guilty, God has provided a way for us to be redeemed.
Even though we possess actual guilt against the Holy God of the universe and not just a feeling, our guilt can be forgiven through the Son of God, Jesus Christ. We can be washed clean because he bore our punishment on the cross. Our relationship with God will be restored for those who come to Christ in faith. We, at that moment, are given a new life in Christ, and he begins a work in us that he promises to complete.
For those who know Jesus, we should not be lulled into the emptiness propagated by our consumer culture. Nor should we buy the lie that buying things can fill that emptiness. Never forget that we are part of the most remarkable campaign known to man: knowing God. Our calling is to glorify him and enjoy him forever. Never shop on an empty soul.