Church Enemy #1: The American Dream

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm (Ephesians 6:12,13).

Our Adversary is a crafty enemy. For millennia, he has been diverting the attention of the people of God from their true enemies and shifting them to those who are not. Take for example the life of Joe the Christian. Tomorrow Joe the Christian, like thousands of other Christians, will line up with others at the polls, adamant in his belief that he is fighting for God and against the Adversary. He will go and vote against the evils of liberalism and socialism, against the evils of injustice, against the evils of high taxes and large government, and then return to his job to pay for his home in Suburbia, surrounded by a white picket fence with 2.3 children running around in the back yard. He returns to his normal life, having fought the good fight for now and waits until he is called upon again in another four years.

For the next four years, Joe the Christian will live the typical American Christian life. He will go to work each week, working fifty to sixty hours to support his family and lifestyle. He and his wife will continue to send their 2.3 children to public schools, because Mrs. Joe, like Joe, has to work a full-time job to help pay for their $250,000 mortgage and their country club membership. Joe and his family somehow find time to go to church several times during the week, on Wednesday nights, Sunday mornings, and the occasional special event. Joe coaches Upward Basketball on Saturdays during Upward season, gives a tithe of his pre-tax income, and occasionally gives a generous contribution to the church’s building fund. Joe also serves as a deacon at his church and is respected by the people there. Joe the Christian is a great American Christian.

Joe the Christian also gets up early every day and reads his Bible. There is a great deal of the Bible that Joe feels like he understands, but there is quite a bit of it that he just cannot grasp. He doesn’t understand, for example, how the Macedonians in 2 Corinthians gave joyfully out of their extreme poverty to the saints in Jerusalem and how that applies today to him today. He doesn’t get how the Church in the book of Acts had all things in common and had time to pray and to fellowship daily. And he really doesn’t get what Christ was trying to say when he told the rich young ruler that he must sell all of his possessions to inherit eternal life or when he said that one must lose his life to gain it.

Joe the Christian prays that the Holy Spirit might reveal the meaning of these things to him, and then he starts his day. He grabs a cup of coffee, hops into his BMW, puts on his seat belt, turns the radio to the local religious station, and drives off to work. On the radio, Joe hears a preacher talking about the persecution and the needs of the Church in Asia. He hears of their running and hiding for their lives, their impoverishment, and their financial woes. Joe’s heart is burdened for these people, and he begins to calculate his budget in his mind to see if there is any money to send to aid the saints in Asia. He begins to subtract from his household income the payment for his home, his car, Mrs. Joe’s SUV, the camper, and the boat. He then subtracts his country club dues, his time share payment, his cable bill, high-speed internet, and utility bills. He then subtracts his and Mrs. Joe’s student loan payments, and their monthly contributions to their 401k’s and Roth IRAs. He subtracts his tithe and his commitment to his church’s building fund, and Joe realizes that he just doesn’t have any money left to send to the Church in Asia. Joe’s conscience is relieved by his quick budgeting, and he soon forgets about the poverty of the Church in Asia.

Joe the Christian doesn’t know it, but he has been utterly defeated by the Adversary. The Adversary has tricked Joe into thinking that his greatest duty is to vote for presidents and to grumble about the godlessness of the country. The Adversary has tricked Joe into thinking that God only wants ten percent from his people. The Adversary has tricked Joe into thinking that the American Dream and Christianity can exist together in harmony. The Adversary has tricked Joe into thinking that Christ is pleased with him all the while Christ is ready to spit him out of his mouth for his lukewarmness.

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked (Revelation 3:15,16).

Categories: Theology

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