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American Religion and the American Way
We Americans love our religion because it allows us to pick and choose God's goals for us. The substance of our religion is an infatuation with control, which is also the case for all lovers of religion.
We suppose that we're clever for finding new religious standards against which to measure ourselves. These measurements are easy to understand and they make us feel good about ourselves for a while because they tell us what we want to hear.
We are following something that looks vaguely like faith down ever-darkening alleys of religious presumption. With our actions say we say, "We're striving ahead even if we have to run out ahead of God!" Yet such overbearing insecurity is spiritually self-defeating. This is the opposite of Christ-centered surrender. We love our plans and our plans love us back and on and on until we become utterly clueless about true spiritual usefulness.
Our American minds cannot comprehend the fact that God is disregarding our best laid plans. We want some kind of guarantee for tomorrow but God keeps telling us not to worry about it. Therefore, because God fails to give us the credit we deserve, we shrug our shoulders at His heavenly wisdom while we continue using His name to label our man-made methods. Christ's command to take up our crosses seems unreasonable to us, so we dismiss it as such.
However, even more dependable than our inclination to make plans is God's inclination to explode our plans. God dismantles our manly construction with shocking persistence. Evidently, we have a God who is much fonder of surprises than we might have hoped.
God's lack of respect for our plans is purposeful. We assume that we'll live long enough to accomplish our silly little plans, but this will not necessarily be the case.
A savvy businessman might plan for and successfully builds twenty skyscrapers during his earthly sojourn. However, if that man fails to take care of business with God, then, by neglecting the Main Thing, that man loses everything forever. Therefore it works out for that man's eternal wellbeing that God demolishes his plans. He is blessed to be swallowed up, plans and all, by God's devastatingly merciful grace. Not that looking ahead is a bad thing, but if we follow Christ then we are called to take care of business with God before everything else.
So what remains for us after God has taken away all that our flesh holds dear? Only a life-consuming dependence on Christ remains. In God's estimation this is the highest honor any person could hope for.
Our goal as Christ's followers is to be so reduced in Him that we are completely dead to our old selves. This is strategic. At the point that we are so thoroughly humbled, there will be nothing left to shield us from the truth about ourselves in relation to God's kingdom.
After we are reduced to the point that we boast in nothing but Christ and our crucifixion in Him, then He will move us beyond ourselves and therefore also beyond our miserable failures and shortcomings.
That Christ is All and we are nothing is great news! We should embrace the chance to become nothing because this makes room for Christ to be our All in all. We will learn from experience that God bounces people who are even as bad as us back onto the right spiritual track.
So here is American churchgoers' first order of business: Stop using religion to resist God. If we want to hear from the Lord again, then one little thing remains: We must relinquish everything we hold dear. We have to give up the right to even understand God and His Way of doing things.
Now is the best time to start embracing the superiority of God's Way over the American way. We have abundant reason to weep, maybe even bitterly at first. But this is a joyful weeping because it proves God's faithfulness to keep our consciences alive.
by Patrick Roberts. Find his book and additional resources at www.BooksByPatrick.com
Patrick is an average Christ-seeker. His goal is to turn people to Jesus Christ.
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