Archive for December 7th, 2008

Angie has given an excellent response to a video that is making the rounds among many evangelicals. No one disputes the need for remembering the poor and the obligation we have to be generous with our wealth. And certainly, no one can object to the charge that Americans (and American Christians) have fallen prey to the idol of materialism. But this video (and those arguments which follow these lines) seems to be trying to provoke guilt not over materialism and greed, but over the mere fact that we have abundance and are able to purchase “unnecessary” gifts for our friends and families at Christmas.

Instead of giving that “unnecessary” toy, we’re told, you could give to a project which provides clean water for people in need. Right. But what if I can do both? Is it wrong to give gifts that the recipients don’t need? [Is there even such a thing as a necessary toy?] Why does God give us hundreds of thousands of “unnecessary” things all the time? We don’t have just one kind of tree or fish or bird or cat or dog or flower or weather or cloud — rather, we have thousands of “unnecessary” varieties. And we have them apparently because God loves to give us lots of things — not because they are necessary, but because they bring delight and joy. Gift giving is an imitation of this lavish and super-abundant love of God who gives us exceedingly, abundantly above all that we can ask or think — and not merely those things we need.

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