How has COVID changed us?
In general, it seems to me that the last two plus years have made us more suspicious people. We have all seen so many variations of what is real and not real, true and less true, that we have been baptized into the waters of skepticism. We are now the kinds of people who look with a wary eye on every news story and every report to see not only what’s being reported, but who is doing the reporting.
Also, in general, COVID seems to have made us more quick-tempered. As the days went by, our fuses became shorter and shorter. Some of what is understandable, I suppose, given the amount of stress we were under, but now, in the post-pandemic (if you’re ready to call it that), it hasn’t gone away. We are an angrier people now than we were three years ago.
And the list could go on. Of course, not all of the changes are negative. Some of us, by God’s grace, have been moved to listen more or be more patient or to be more courteous or even to appreciate something simple like going to a restaurant. Even so, when we look back many years from now and write all the books and do all the studies about how this time in history has affected us, I suspect it will largely be negative. And negative at the heart level.
Here’s the thing about these changes – they are not necessarily behavioral, although they result in behaviors. No, these are heart changes. Mindset changes. Posture changes. Changes down deep in us that work themselves out in tons of little ways. And because they are, the changes don’t just influence the way we interact with issues around COVID.
Our suspicion goes beyond the COVID circumstance. So does our anger. So does frustration and self-preservation and every other way that our hearts have been altered. So here’s one more to add to the list, another heart change that has come around in the post-COVID era:
We are more consumeristic than ever before.
What is a consumer? Well, a consumer is someone who consumes something. But more than that, it’s someone who demands a certain kind and style of product – something that has been tailored to their specific preferences. Of course, we were consumers prior to March of 2020, but now? Now our consumerism has been doubled down and multiplied to the nth degree.
Now this might seem a little counterintuitive at first, because we all remember when the world shut down and we couldn’t have things exactly how we wanted. We couldn’t travel, eat, or interact the way we desired. But our culture was quick to adapt, and very soon we found a way to have all (or most) of the same things we wanted, except now we didn’t have to actually put forth as much effort to get them. They came to us; we did not have to go to them. Our groceries came to us; our movies came to us; and yes, our churches came to us.
The point of the post is not to argue about whether those things should have happened, but just to state that they did. And since they did, we are now, more than ever before, insistent that things continue to come to us. Just like we want them.
But here’s the problem for us as Christians – Christianity is not about having a faith that suits our needs; it’s about bending our needs to the lordship of Jesus. It’s not about what we want or think we need; it’s about agreeing with God about what we should want and really need. It’s not about gaining our perceived version of real life; it’s about losing our lives for the sake of Christ and then finding true life on the other side.
And a consumer mentality is simply incompatible with what Jesus demands of those who follow Him. So here, friends, we have something heightened in our hearts to recognize. Something rising up that we have to fight. Something that entangles us as we seek to run the race set before us. Let us, in the face of COVID consumerism, return to what we know to be true:
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).