Friday, May 9, 2014

America Is The Hardest Place To Be A Christian

You may think that statement is impossible. Of course, it would be extremely hard and even dangerous living in other parts of the world as a Christian... but you'll be presented reasons why being a true Christian in America is the hardest.

Mother Teresa once said that the spiritual poverty of the West (America) was far worse than any tangible poverty she ever saw. And I think we can all agree with her....

Here's why:

"I'm a Christian."

          In America, many throw around the word "Christianity" like it's just a label. Heck, "everyone" is a Christian it seems! Especially if you live in the South, it comes to a surprise if someone says they're not a Christian. Many think they're Christians because their parents believed, because they attended a church camp one summer, because they went to church growing up, because they were baptized at the age of 7, because they said a few prayers, or even because they told people they were a Christian.... but they don't understand that being a Christian is a whole lot more than that. In fact, those things don't mean you are a true follower of Jesus at all.

          It's not just a way of living or telling people you're a part of the "club"; it's a complete transformation of the heart, having a relationship with God, and putting your complete trust in Jesus. Jesus said throughout the New Testament that external deeds, knowledge of Him, and even following God's Law never saved anyone.... only a transformation of the heart and faith in Jesus Christ did.

          ....And trust me, you don't have a transformation of the heart or a relationship with God if you don't have the desire to live out your life according to His will, desire to live as Jesus did, consistently repent and try to turn from sin (even knowing we will always fail), put your faith and trust in Jesus, or attempt to abide in Him daily.

          Disclaimer: Even the most devout followers of Jesus fail, fall away from God, turn to their sinful desires, struggle to put their trust in Jesus, and even struggle with the desire to build in their relationship with the Lord. You can see this throughout the New Testament too, even with Peter (Jesus' most devout disciple). What I am saying is that if we live our life merely to gain worldly things and put our hope/desires in those things, we truly don't have a transformation of the heart. As Jesus says, "What do you benefit if you gain the whole world, but lose your soul?" - Matthew 16:26.

Pitiful Persecution = Weakened Hearts 

          I think we can all say that we're very thankful that we live in a country where we have religious freedom and don't have to live in fear of imprisonment (or even death) because of our faith. But because of this, we have taken it for granted and don't see the daily need to rely and trust in Jesus. But persecution has strengthened faith over history, as well as for our Christian brothers and sisters all over the world facing real persecution.

          In fact, one missionary in China actually asked our church to stop praying about that topic for Asia because they WANTED persecution. They didn't want it to be like America; they didn't want to get too comfortable or to be easily accepted... because persecution, having to truly rely on God for the gospel to affect nonbeliever's hearts, and learning to put their full trust and faith in Jesus actually strengthened their ministry and walk with God.

          The only thing we seem to worry about (faith wise) in America is getting made fun of or not fitting in. We're so wrapped up in our privileged freedom that we take it for granted and live as if we don't need God (or live like we're our own gods). Our culture thrives on the idea that it's "all about you" and getting what we want... so in America, it's easy to get sucked into the diluted flow of our culture by putting all of our heart's desires on things of this temporary life.

          Just like you can't become strong and physically fit at the gym without some struggle, stressing your muscles, and being persistent at reaching your goal... you can't truly grow in your relationship with God without struggle, persistence, and learning to put your faith and trust in Him (in all circumstances).

Moments of Realization

The American Dream / The American Way