I have repented. I have purposed to no longer live the pagan life that I once lived. Not that I’m perfect; I am so steeped in this pagan lifestyle, so surrounded by it, and have been so brainwashed by it that I very easily fall back into bad thought patterns and bad habits.
What am I talking about? It may sound like my faith decision to follow Jesus Christ, but it isn't. I am talking about another major step in faith: My decision to no longer believe the false gospel of American Suburban Evangelical Christianity (ASEC).
Here’s what I’m talking about (hypothetically and hyperbolically speaking, of course):
- The church provides the pastor with a newly leased Lexus every two years.
- The men have an outreach Bible study at their Country Club.
- Our small group meets at the “Smith’s” home – a 5,600 square foot home in a gated community. The hostess has decorated it with the nicest furniture and keeps the place immaculate. She serves the most amazing hoers d’voures each week.
- The women’s ministry has their quarterly all-day excursion to the Outlet Mall.
- The church installs a few 46-inch flat screens in the Youth Room along with new XBoxes and PS3s.
When the guys get convicted about the poor in the community, they cancel their regularly-scheduled Country Club Bible Study so that they can serve in a soup kitchen. Once.
When we see how “God has blessed the Smiths,” we buy a few more things on credit so that we too can enjoy the blessing of God. We also fret about how we too could be such gracious hosts, worrying that if the group ever meets at our home, we won’t live up to the high standards set by the Smiths.
When the women return with the hundreds of dollars worth of clothes they purchased on their shopping spree, they congratulate themselves on being such good stewards of their money… after all, they did go to the Outlet Mall.
When the elders look into their newly renovated Youth Room, they congratulate themselves that they have created a space that will attract kids to the ministry. When a wise parent complains that they church is simply feeding into the consumerist mindset of the culture, they are dismissed as unable to get with the times.
As I see it, Jesus has called us to a radical level of discipleship – a discipleship that seeks first his kingdom and his righteousness. Kingdom fidelity has no room for consumeristic desires. But ASEC has taken the paganism of the “American Dream” and has combined that with the gospel of the Kingdom of God to create a syncretistic amalgam that resembles a mutated, disgusting creature from some science fiction movie.
Jesus was clear:
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:31-33)The church in America reminds me of the Church in Laodicea.To these Christians, Jesus said,
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (See Revelation 3:14-22).Jesus is standing at the door of American Suburban Evangelical Christianity and is knocking. Will we let him in?