As I work on Sunday's message from John 2:12-22 on Jesus cleansing the Temple, I came across the following section from Mark Driscoll's very helpful sermon Angry Worship.
Do you guys see what’s happened here? Do you guys know what the difference is between a consumer and a worshipper? This is exactly what the difference is: A consumer is someone who believes that the entire world exists to service their needs, and that they have a certain amount of money that they are now going to place in some particular business. Therefore, all the businesses should compete for their dollar. And then whoever wins, right – I’ll just show it to you. This is how it works: Here’s my buck. I’m a consumer. Now, I want some things. Now, what I’m trying to figure out is who will give me the most for my dollar. And so I start to look at competitors, and then people rise up against each other to compete for this. And then what I try to find out is where can I place this and get the maximum return with the least amount of inconvenience? Who will do for me the most and charge me the least? That is a consumer.
Now, a worshipper is just the opposite. A worshipper looks at this and says, “Where can I give this so that the most number of people are benefiting? Where can I give this so that I don’t get anything from this, but that someone else gets God’s love, grace, mercy extended to them in some tangible way?” A worshipper looks at it and says, “It is not about me. It is about God and those people that don’t yet know God.” A consumer looks at it and says, “It’s all about me. I’m the customer. The customer’s always right. The customer is king. Whatever the customer wants.” We live in a world that is governed and dominated by consumerism. And when consumerism creeps into our spirituality, what happens then we look at church and brothers and sisters in Christ and God and the work of the Gospel as something that is to compete for our interest. “What will it take for me to get as much as I can and give as little as I can? How can I have some sort of transacting relationship in which I win?” That’s exactly what is happening. “How can I get the biggest bang for my buck?”
And a consumer views church and view God and views religion as the place where they can get all of their needs met without making any sacrifices, without being inconvenienced, without having to carry any responsibility for anyone else. The worst of it is when men don’t look at it and say, “Well, gosh, what can I do for women, children, single moms, widows, orphans, the poor, the handicapped, the neglected, those in need?” If I am an able-bodied male, that means “How can I take what I have and invest that so that they are blessed and that they are loved and that they have an opportunity to worship God as well? How can I pay the bills for them so that they can come to know God?” That’s an attitude of a worshipper, but a consumer it is not.
A consumer takes every single dollar and hour and interest and invest them – invest that in themselves. And what that is, is it’s idolatry. It’s self-worship. It is giving what belongs to God to myself. It’s self-glorification. We also call that things like self-esteem or self-actualization. We got a whole language for pride. Jesus is confronting the heart of this kind of worship. The disciples look at it and they say, “You know, he has zeal for his father’s house.” What always happens then is the religious professionals that are making a good income off of this sort of transaction they get angry because they’re losing market share. They’re losing income. And if people believe what Jesus has to say, then the whole thing is going to come undone.