There’s something that’s been eating away at my soul. I’ve written about it in one form or the other in the past but never seem to effectively articulate it, which is a very hard thing for a writer to accept. Here it is, as simply as I can put it. We’ve got a couple generations (at least) of people who call themselves Christians but live nothing like Jesus Christ. With apologies to my international readers, I’m going to be speaking from an American perspective, because that is the only context with which I have current first-hand knowledge. My suspicion is that all Western countries suffer from the same malady of malaise. We have sworn allegiance to Jesus but live for ourselves.
The so-called “American Dream” has no place in the life of a follower of Jesus. By definition, pursuing the American Dream means seeking personal success, security, and an accumulation of goods that proves what we’ve achieved. What part of any of that looks like Jesus? We are a nation full of people who try to have the best of both worlds. We want Jesus and the dream. Any time you place an “and” after Jesus, rest assured that what follows is an idol of some sort or shape.
To be perfectly clear, I have struggled with the same temptations in my life. I spent far too many years climbing the proverbial corporate ladder. I’ve accumulated more than my share of worthless stuff. For a period of my life, I lived the American Dream in all its false glory. I’m still trying to figure it all out. Here’s what I know: the American Dream lifestyle looks nothing like Jesus, and therefore has to be offensive to God. He doesn’t need pretenders in His army. In fact, Jesus said He’ll send those people away (Matthew 7:22-23). What God demands are followers who are dead serious about following Jesus with every square inch of their bodies, and every breath in their lungs. He wants people who disregard their own comfort and security for the sake of His Kingdom. He wants people who are content with little and good stewards of much.
How can we claim to be followers of Jesus when our lives look no different from our neighbors? Ensconced within gated communities full of homes with three car garages and dual fireplaces, we kick back and enjoy the fruits of our labor. The problem is our labor rarely does anything to advance the mission of Jesus Christ. We are not bringing the Kingdom of God to earth because we’re too busy building our own empires. I’m not saying to sell all your possessions and live destitute. I’m not encouraging you to quit your job and work in ministry instead. I’m simply seeking some people who, like me, are sick of playing at this Christianity thing; people who are just crazy enough about Jesus to take Him seriously. We all need to be people who admit the way we’re living is not the way we’re supposed to live. We all need to drop the façade and decide whether or not we’re serious about looking like Jesus.