American Christians are More American than Christian

Thursday is for Discipleship

Church sign
The American Church is focused on Trivialities

I have said it for years and I think it is more true than ever: American Christians are more American than Christian.  They are more comfortable pursuing the American dream with a Christian veneer of spirituality than they are in pursuing a “cross-bought, cross-shaped” lifestyle.

Let me flesh out what I mean by that last phrase.

To be “cross-bought” in our lifestyle is to recognize that  it was through a bloody cross that we were rescued from sin, adopted into the family of God (Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5), seated with Christ in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:6) and destined to reign with Him in glory (2 Tim. 2:12). To live that out in a lifestyle means that we are always preaching the gospel to ourselves and reminding ourselves of the great sacrifice that was made to make us His.

You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.
So glorify God in your body.
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

I am not my own. If you are in Christ, you are not your own.  Your body, as well as your soul, is owned, bought by the blood of Christ.  You don’t have the right to decide what your Christian life will be shaped like.  Jesus does.  And your job, because you are owned by him, is to wake up each morning and get your marching orders from Him.

But there is also to be a “cross-shape” to how we live in the world.  What does this mean?

Simply this.  “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

In other words, we come to understand the love of God and fall in love with God because we see the love of God expressed to us in Christ.  And we see the love of God expressed to us through the cross.  To put it another way, the love of God comes to us, impinges upon our spirits in the shape of the cross.  “When we survey the wondrous cross on which the prince of glory died” everything changes for us.

In a similar way, if we want the world to see the love of God through us, then we have to accept the fact that our love will sound and look like the love of God when there is a cost associated with the delivery of the gospel.  When the unbelieving world sees that we are willing to suffer and sacrifice for them, that we are willing to live for a wholly different set of values than the rest of the world around us in order to better organize our lives around the principle of the cross, then, and only then, will our gospel begin to be believable.

Let’s make becoming like Jesus more than a phrase.  Let’s actually become like Jesus, in His suffering and His willingness to endure ill treatment for those with whom we would share the precious promises of the gospel.

© Marty Schoenleber, Jr. 2010

8 thoughts on “American Christians are More American than Christian

  1. I think you got it right. Christians are divided on many basic biblical teachings on morality because of the strong influence of our culture on their thinking, even affecting the top leaders of denominations. Our division minimizes our ability to be salt, light and leaven.

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  2. I lived in Poland for 7 years in the 70’s and 80’s while I was in a language course and then in medical school. I even was baptized in a local river during marshal law. When I would come home on visits, many Christians here in America seemed very shallow in their spiritual lives. Christians in eastern Europe, Russia and China went through the spiritual winnowing more so than here, making them lean on Christ more than we do here. I admit that I am lazier than I used to be, but at age 57 I would find it hard to voluntarily jump back into such conditions.
    So I pray and I ask God to refine me as He will.

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    1. Welcome to the blog John, and thanks for sharing your experience. Your comments remind me of something that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once said about how the Russian soul was deeper than the Western soul because of the suffering and deprivations that it had collectively experienced under communism.

      I think there is much truth in what he said. Suffering, though unpleasant, refines a soul and exhorts our hearts to trust in Christ and Christ alone. Perhaps that is part of why James says that we should “count it all joy when we encounter various trials …”

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  3. Amen, brother!!! We need to be Christians first, whatever-else-ians second. Yes, we are to be good citizens of our country, but where is our real citizenship?

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  4. Have you read Francis Chan’s Crazy Love? He has a lot of great insights on this same thing. He asks a haunting question about how American Christians have softened Christianity. He says, “But what if Jesus was serious?” It seems to me that so many of Jesus’ words have been reinterpreted in modern culture into something easy to do and of course in a way that means God wants me to be prosperous financially and happy. Good post.

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