The teens we work with are are tempted just like us to make money to spend money (ON THEMSELVES). Spending habits start early. According to staticbrain.com, the average teen spending in a year for and by American teens amounts to 258.7 billion dollars. In a consumer-centered society, it is important to share the words of Jesus with our teens. This Christmas we should encourage our youth to think about the needs of others before their own material desires. You might also like to share some of the statistics listed at staticbrain.com on teen spending.
Growing up in the United States comes with a fare share of privilege. We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. This holiday season the average American will spend $700 on holiday gifts, totaling more than $465 billion, the National Retail Federation estimates (abcnew.go.com).
We arguably spend more per capita than any other country in the world. With the staggering amount we spend it should not surprise us that out of 31 peer countries (including: Japan, Korea, Turkey, Mexico, the Netherlands, Canada, Germany and many others), we rank 3rd in poverty. Mexico ranks #1.
We are a consumer driven country! Our reputation is one of materialism and personal gain. We are known for spending more than we make. Many of us live in debt because of credit cards and loans. It seems living with and dying with debt does not hinder us from getting what we want and living in comfort.
Have we selfishly decided to go after what we want, rather than what we simply need? Have we let our comfort distract us from the sacrificial life Christ modeled for us?
Christmas brings us back to Jesus. We can take the opportunity to talk about why love came down. It can also be a time to guide our students to the words of Jesus.
“Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Jesus said, “Why do you question me about what’s good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you.” 18-19 The man asked, “What in particular?”Jesus said, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself.” 20 The young man said, “I’ve done all that. What’s left?” “If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.” That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.” Matthew 19:16-22
“Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?” Mark 8:34-37
“Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.” Mark 12:41-44
After sharing the words of Jesus with your group, have a discussion about the difference between a consumer-centered life and a Jesus-centered life.