Saturday, July 16, 2011

THE TOP 10 THINGS EVERY CHRISTIAN SHOULD KNOW (But Probably Doesn't) #9

# 9 - "The Kingdom of God is NOT the American Dream"

As we continue in our series, counting down the top ten things the modern Church seems to have forgotten about, we look at number nine on our list: "The Kingdom of God is NOT the American Dream"

You'd think it wouldn't need to be said out loud, but more and more I find that there is a blurred line in American Christianity between "The American Way" and "The Kingdom of God".

Maybe it's the feeling that America is God's new Israel? Or maybe it started with The Dallas Cowboys being "God's Favorite Football Team"? Maybe it's something that's been brewing since the first Boston Tea Party? I'm not really sure, but I do know that today we have a serious problem separating good old American Values from the Gospel that Jesus died to proclaim.

If you've ever doubted someone's eternal salvation because they voted Democrat in the last election, then you may have a problem in this area.

Yes Virginia, there WILL be Libertarians and Green Party members in Heaven. (And Republicans and Democrats). You'll probably live next to one, knowing God's sense of humor.

The Kingdom of God and the American Dream are not the same thing, and in fact, they are two opposing viewpoints which are in conflict on many levels.

Believe it or not, Jesus did not come so that you and I could engage in our "Pursuit of Happiness".

The American Dream is founded on the concept of every person's right to the pursuit of happiness. Whatever you can imagine would make you happy you are free to pursue it with all your heart. That's your right.

The Kingdom of God is founded on the concept of laying down your life, your idea of what will make you happy, in favor of receiving what Jesus knows will really make you happy.

Following Jesus involves laying down your life and giving up your rights. It means full and complete submission to God because you recognize that His perfect will for your life is a million times better than anything you could ever dream up, or pursue, on your own.

Jesus didn't ever instruct any of his disciples to fight for their God-given, "Inalienable Rights", and neither did Paul the Apostle. In fact, they both encouraged their disciples to live humble lives, serving others and not demanding more because they deserved more. Paul even specifically told those followers of Christ who were slaves to remain slaves, even if they were being mistreated.

Historically, the early Christians didn't fight for their rights as citizens, they took it on the chin, and in the Lion's den, and in the arena. They literally would rather die than to take another person's life.

Simply put, they followed their Lord and Savior, Jesus in His example of non-violence and submissive service to those who hated them and mistreated them. Does that sound like the American Dream to you?

Repeat after me: "Politics and Christianity are not the same thing", "The American Dream is not part of the Gospel", "George Washington and Thomas Jefferson did not die for your forgiveness of sins", "Jesus was not a Republican".

Are we trying to make God in our image? Do we want a version of Jesus that fits into our way of life? Or are we willing to conform our life into His image?

It's interesting to me that the scriptures reveal to us a Jesus who was not so preoccupied with Earthly political discussions. "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar and unto God what is God's" was pretty much the only true political statement He ever made, if it can even be called that.

In his time on Earth, Jesus didn't seem so concerned about the politics of the day. Nor did He talk so much about current events, other than to reference the collapse of a tower in a nearby village where a few people had died.

However, Jesus WAS interested in a political system, a new way of life called "The Kingdom of God". In fact, it's pretty much all he ever talked about.

It might shock you to consider that Jesus probably cares less about what the upcoming Presidential Candidates are saying on their campaign trails than He does about what you and I are doing with our actual lives.

Many of us, if we're honest, know way more about the views and values of our particular political perspective than we do about God's Kingdom. But, Jesus urged us, His followers, to "Seek first the Kingdom of God."

It's not that Jesus wants the Kingdom of God to influence or even to compete with the political systems of our nation, as much as he wants His Kingdom to influence and change you.

Do we share His views of the poor? Are we even aware what His position is on economics, or foreign relations, or peace-making, or consumerism? Are we actively, seriously, continually seeking after the things of The Kingdom of God?

Perhaps we're more comfortable with a blue-eyed, six foot tall, Republican Jesus who conforms to our political and social ways of living. Probably. But, is that really who Jesus is? Or have we now made God in our own image?

Which version of Jesus are you holding on to? Which way of life are you currently pursuing? Is it the life Jesus describes in the sermon on the mount, or is it something pretty close to the life you would have lived had you never heard the Gospel at all?

The polls are open.

- kg

4 comments:

Terry Austin said...

Very good article! As you know, this is not a popular message that folks want to hear. I am discouraged how easily the church has surrendered to the world. We seem more intent on making good Americans than we do on discipling followers of Christ. Thanks for your words.

Anonymous said...

Wondering just how much the pursuit of happiness and rights hinders real community

Will Rochow said...

Awesome post. It's right on (and I'm not even an American). I've often wondered about these things, especially when I see the flag (regardless of the country) in the front of the church beside the pulpit. That always rubbed me the wrong way.

Alan said...

Thank you! And equally appropriate to the UK....we want a 'likeable' comfortable, sweet, non-offensive Jesus, who lived in a semi-detached house and was kind to children and had regular 'quiet-times'...appreciate your thoughts,Alan, keep 'em coming.