Value is in the heart of the beholder. Just about everything is marked with meaning and carries some level of value. Often times, value is ascribed to something that is sentimental. The value of something can have a major impact on culture or society at large. In some cases, it may not go any further than the perimeter of one’s own life. With such high regard and esteem for something or someone, what causes something or someone to fall into the unusual devalued category? It may have originally held significant inspiration but somehow it moved to being all too common and seemingly meaningless. This is the concept behind Vincent Miller’s idea of commodification. The act of commodification takes place when something not originally meant to be sold in the market place becomes a major item on the consumer’s supply and demand list. In his book, Consumer Religion, Miller explains the seriousness of commodification and how it can oust the original purpose of something or someone if it is not kept in perspective.
In the next few paragraphs, I will highlight a few areas, people, possessions, and places of worship that may have fallen into the hands of commodification. I invite you to come to voice and speak to rather or not we as a culture have maintained the value within a particular area or if it is now devalued.
A transformational experience, not a transactional advantage, wins the heart of people. A few years ago, I read an article comparing the treatment of two different airline companies. Company A received multiple complaints from employees stating that the company publicly promoted a family oriented atmosphere, but behind the scenes it was a nightmare. Company B received above average reviews from its customers and even better reviews from its employees. One particular story sticks out to me where a family member of a flight attendant was having major brain surgery. To her surprise, just minutes before the operation, the CEO of her company walked through door. He embraced the employee and the attending family and waited with them. He knew how to value people.
Are companies in our world today valuing their employees? Or are the employees just another number in the market place? Would you agree with the comment that today machines are made to think like man and man is made to think like a machine? Where does personal touch and care/concern fit in on the value spectrum of how we treat one another?
The requirements for the kings of Israel were laid out by Moses in Deuteronomy 17. They included things such as warnings against acquiring much wealth, having too many horses/chariots, or multiplying wives. These commands were not meant to be burdensome but to protect the kings heart from relying on anything but the Lord. King Solomon is an example of a king who started well but took a drastic turn for the worst as broke all of the requirements listed above. His desires overcame his dedication to God which caused him to drift off course. Eventually the possessions appeared to have had full possession over him. He no longer lived humbly before God, and the way he treated his fellow Hebrews also changed.
In our materialistic Western culture, what possesses our hearts?
Places of Worship
It is often said that the local church remains the hope of the world. However, there is a growing frustration among the university students I work with in terms of them desiring to study God’s word in the church but only being met with efforts to entertain their senses of humor and the seeming need to have a good time. When did the focus of a ski trip become more prevalent than learning God’s word? There is a value missing here. The church still has to offer hope to be the hope of the world.
In conclusion, we must keep the main thing, the main the thing. People are a priority. Possessions are good to have, but not at the expense of our relationships. The house of worship is still the place for healing, forgiveness, and confession – and those things are based out of God’s word.
May we not allow the market place to devalue God or people in our hearts.