Black Friday and Dark Hearts

“Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S., is called that because it usually allows retailers to go into the black. But this year, the early morning shopping frenzy turned deadly. A Walmart employee was trampled to death by New York shoppers who broke down the door before dawn, anxious to get into the store and get their hands on the sale merchandise.

The next day, the Dallas Morning News carried a short story providing analysis of why shoppers turned into killers.

* Fear of being unable to afford gifts drives shoppers to shop competitively

* The urge to snap up discounts can cause people to abandon their normal behavior

* When people are jostled in a crowd, their personal space is shattered, resulting in loss of individual judgment

* Individual identity can become erased, and one becomes part of the crowd

* People’s frustration at things like linecutting and being denied access to a big sale flares into rage

Interesting suggestions, these psychological profiles. But something’s missing.

Sin. And the nasty ugliness of unfettered flesh.

God has His own explanation:

Where do the conflicts and where do the quarrels among you come from? Is it not from this, from your passions that battle inside you? You desire and you do not have; you murder and envy and you cannot obtain; you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask; you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions. (James 4:1-3)

And perhaps the scariest part of that horrendous killer stampede at the Walmart is that every single one of us is equipped with the same nasty, ugly, unredeemable flesh. But for the grace of God, those shoppers could have been us.

Could have been me.

Which is why we all need a Savior.


This blog post originally appeared at on December 2, 2009