The night before, while staying in a home he doesn’t own, sleeping in a different room than his wife because they were arguing, someone raped her. So, here’s a homeless man, unable to provide for his family and processing another man sexually assaulting his wife.
His pain was so strong, I felt it. Now, let’s assume Jesus approached this man and said, “Hey bro, I’m thinking about redeeming you and the rest of humanity. In 30 minutes, your pain will disappear, and your wife’s attacker will receive justice. What do you think?” You think he would respond with, “Uhh … or you can come tomorrow. Life’s pretty good, Jesus.”?
I left the food pantry that night with a sobering thought … maybe this man, homeless, hungry and overcome with pain, is closer to Jesus than I am. Unlike me, he understands what it means to long for restoration. Brokenness isn’t something “out there.” It’s his reality. Heaven would be an upgrade for him.
Most American Christians don’t see their desperate need for God because they’re blinded by the American Dream.
If you don’t feel uneasy here, it’s probably because you’ve created a pseudo-heaven on earth. Your hope rests in a present facade rather than a future reality. And if you take up residence on earth, you give up residence in heaven.
2.) You trust things more than people.
I saw a bumper sticker recently that said, “The one who dies with the most toys wins.”
“Congratulations, Billy, you have the most toys. C’mon down and claim your prize. Billy … Billy … Hey, Frank. Where is Billy? Oh, he’s dead. How will he receive his prize? … Who cares, let’s divvy up his toys.”
What an absurd idea that we would accumulate trinkets only to leave them for someone else?
But this is the American Dream. As your salary increases, so does your toy box. Incidentally (or maybe not), the larger your toy box, the less you rely on others and especially God.
The rich don’t need other people. But, a culture driven by wealth and prosperity must understand a very important point …
No one is independent.
Maybe you don’t need other people. Maybe you see this as a noble pursuit. People, after all, can’t be trusted (at least, this is the what the American Dreams says). But your independence from people only reveals your dependence on stuff.
“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him …” These words introduce Jesus’ first sermon in Matthew 5. They also reveal who is in the best position to receive the promises of God. Why does Jesus spend time with prostitutes, tax collectors and lepers? They’re poor in spirit. Their toy box is small. And, consequently, they’re most eager to receive a message of hope.
No facades with the poor. No trinkets to cover up enormous voids. No costumes to mask secret sins and empty hearts. Phillip Yancey says it this way, “I do not believe the poor to be more virtuous than anyone else, but they are less likely to pretend to be virtuous.”
The poor and helpless must depend on others. They have no stuff. And, in this way, they’re more likely to receive Jesus.
3.) You believe privacy is an acceptable way of life.
The American Dream preaches independence.
While independence isn’t inherently bad, its close friend isolation is. Independence and isolation are travel buddies. You won’t see one without the other. I’ve watched Christians becoming increasingly disconnected from one another and culture.
I often hear, “I just don’t like entertaining guests in my home or sharing details about my life. I’m a private person.”
But, to be real, you handed in that card when you became a Christian. There’s no such thing as a private follower of Jesus. You were created by a relational God, so your joy is tied to other people and others’ joy is tied to you.