I’m proud to be an American and a Christian. That being said, I think because of living in the US some of the lines between Christian and American philosophies get blurred. I’m afraid that we as Christians have unwittingly accepted some American ideologies and weaved them into our foundational believe system. The American dream is that you can be anything you want to be. Follow your heart and do what makes you happy. The Declaration of Independence itself declares this is what America is about, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness…” These are great things to base a government on, which is who it was written to. To try to make sure the government didn’t overstep its boundaries into the personal life of the Americans. However, to base our lives on these virtues has led us to a less than ideal situation. Everyone is being anything they want to be, a girl can now be a boy, or nothing (still not sure how that works). A family unit can literally be made up of anything you can imagine. People are doing what makes them “happy” so there’s rioting and looting going on everywhere. CHAZ in Seattle where everyone did what made them happy has turned into a nightmare. In a time where anything goes and no judgement is cast, sleep with whoever you want and pursue happiness at any and all cost, don’t you think we’d all be happy and content? You don’t have to look around you very hard to see that’s not the case. Do a quick search on the internet and you’ll find similar statistics to these.
Why does it seem like the harder we chase our dreams, follow our heart, and search for happiness the further away we get? I think sometimes as believers we get sucked into this same thought process. America has done a great job of putting words in God’s mouth. “God wants me to be happy so I’m going to…” or “God helps those that help themselves,” or “To thine own self be true.” That last one was Shakespeare but somehow people believe it’s in the Bible. All of these sound so good. They tickle our ears and make our hearts happy. But what does God actually say?
He says things like:
“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have,” Ephesians 13:5a
“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:35b
“And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22
This is all the complete opposite of what we are being told today. Society says that if we follow our hearts, we will find happiness. And unfortunately, this is a lie we’ve started telling our kids, when in reality “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Matthew 15:19 Not what I want my kids, or myself, pursuing. “Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” Luke 12:31 What are the “these things” its referring to? Daily provisions, not a mansion on a hill with a Corvette. Seeking His Kingdom, will and desires for our lives is what brings satisfaction. Not chasing after the latest I-phone or current trend. This leaves us empty and lost and looking for the next big thing. As contrary to culture that this is, truly putting God first will bring you more joy than any thing here on Earth. Let’s stop mixing culture and scripture. Let’s stop making Christ “more politically correct and socially acceptable.” Look where that’s got us?
We tell our kids to pursue their dreams and that by so doing they will be satisfied and happy. So they do. They graduate high school, go to college, maybe pursue sports, graduate with a degree in something they decided on at the ripe old age of 17 or 18 that they now have to do the rest of their lives. Get married, have 2.5 kids and a dog (I think that’s still the average) and expect to live happily ever after. But what happens when the country song kicks in? The kids get sick, the dog dies, the truck gets stolen, the boss man fires them, and someone they love is diagnosed with cancer? What’s usually the first question? Why God? Not a bad question but when they’ve been taught that God wants them to be happy, they see all these as signs that God is either not pleased with them, or that they need to quit the life they are living and go find happiness elsewhere. What if instead they were taught that the right here and right now is not what it’s all about. That God is more concerned with their heart for Him than pursuing their desires. That serving Him is the only wat that they will find any satisfaction in this life. That hard times are going to come, that there are times when this life sucks, but He is still God. That doing what is right is hard and doesn’t usually feel good. Not fun things to teach but I’d much rather my child know that if you step out in the street without looking, they’re probably going to not appreciate the results versus telling them “if that’s what makes you happy….”
Heavenly Lord Father, I pray that you would help me to be content. To realize everything you’ve blessed me with. The very air in my lungs is a gift from you. Help me to realize that only in serving and following You will I find true joy and satisfaction. That happiness is fleeting and that pursuing my own desires leaves me empty, like a vapor it’s gone in a moment. Help me to teach my kids that their true calling is not any accomplishment, career or position here on earth but to follow and love You. ~ Amen