Dear American Christian (Part 1)

A popular take on newsworthy events today seems to be the “open letter” concept. In its essence an open letter becomes a chance to expound upon certain issues, usually making it an opinion piece. Perhaps it’s the modern-day equivalent of a “letter to the editor,” except in the digital age the letter has more potential to be shared and affirmations/dissensions to be expressed.
I’ve decided to go a different direction with this week’s blog. The following points are addressed to a specific audience: the believer in Christ residing within the boundaries of the United States. “The American Christian.” I admit there is much debate on what a "Christian" is today. For sake of discussion, I consider a Christian to be someone who believes in the teachings of the Bible and has professed a faith in Jesus Christ. This includes the confession of sins with the understanding that Jesus died to pay the punishment we rightfully deserved. From there, the Holy Spirit comes to reside within and a life of faith is lived out. As Christians, our works point as evidence of the faith we have but please understand, our good works do not get us into heaven. Ultimately for the believer in Christ, an eternal reward awaits. One day we will be with Jesus!
Some might identify with the terms “saved” or “born again”. It is to that audience that this letter is addressed.
With all of that preliminary groundwork out of the way, I have some things on my heart to share with my fellow believers in Christ. I am convinced as Americans there are unshakeable truths we need to come back to. It’s nothing I say without telling myself first and foremost. There are 10 points altogether (5 this week, 5 next week) but no magic reason for 10…just an even number. To be honest, I could have spent a week or longer on each of these points. And I probably will come back to some of them in more detail over time. I heartily welcome comments and even debate as long as it’s wholesome in nature. My intent in every blog is to allow for discussion and engagement, all in the hopes of encouragement. Without further ado here we go…
1. The Prosperity Gospel is a false Gospel
I won’t name names and I won’t call anyone out. The names and teachers at this point are irrelevant as the idea of somehow being blessed as a result of following Christ has become our goal as Americans. We’ve sought the blessing, not the Blesser. We’ve sought the gift, not the Giver. We’ve sought the provision, not the Provider. In the US, we are prone to think that somewhere in God’s divine order, following Christ means having a large bank account, nice cars in the garage, a big house, and nice clothes. A life full of material things. It all sounds good but I have yet to find anywhere in Scripture where God makes any promise to those ends. There is an aspect of blessing and favor, yes. But if you look at a follower like Paul, you see the blessing in various ways…none of which amounts to him having more stuff and living disease-free. Contentment is the mark of Paul’s life. We lack contentment and therefore, we are drawn to an idea like the “health and wealth Gospel.” It’s unbiblical and it’s damaging.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:12
2. We have cheapened grace
Grace is perhaps the most over-used word in our current lexicon as Christians. I hear it tossed around in such a carefree manner; I'll admit to being guilty of overusing it in my own home. But with overuse comes a dumbing-down of the term and an inappropriate application. Grace to me has and always will be the idea of receiving what I do not deserve. Grace cost the Savior everything and cost us nothing. We do not apply grace correctly when we cheapen it by choosing to live and remain in a state of sin. Further, we do not understand grace correctly if we do not understand repentance. Repentance is a term meaning “to go in the opposite direction”…basically making a U-turn and not returning to the path we were on. If we understand grace, we realize it makes us want to change and want to be something unlike what we were. Is it limitless and is it unending? Yes and praise God for His boundless grace. But we make it small when we choose not to obey and follow Jesus out of our life of sin.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6:1-4
3. Faith should inform our politics, not the other way around
Republican. Democrat. Independent. We all seem to have taken the words of Scripture and applied them as we see fit in our current political climate. I am someone who loves to follow politics. But too quickly I can get caught up in making my faith fit inside some sort of political ideology. Over recent years, I feel God’s conviction about what this does. It somehow makes others with opposing views not as Christian as I am and not reading the same Bible I do. I’m tired of putting God into a box in order to fit my politics. He stands outside of any box we could put Him in. There is not a D or an R after His name. What I do as a Christian is what I am called to do…I pray for my leaders and I pray that they would act in a way that is honoring to God and in submission to Him. From there, I believe we are to hold them accountable. Presidents, governments, kings and kingdoms all have a shelf life. None will last. None are eternal. God is eternal and we forget that His ways are higher than our own. I’m content to pray, “Lord speak into our country like no one else can and let your will prevail.” It’s a shift in mindset and I wonder how our politics would change if Christians started living this way.
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 1 Timothy 2:1,2
4. God will judge America for how it valued life
Let’s be real: Abortion is the holocaust of our day. Truly this is a specific issue that shouldn’t come down to what political party you belong to. Regardless of that, God values life in all its forms. Christians will be held accountable for whether or not we spoke up for the voiceless and defenseless. Most notably, abortion is a practice that deems life is a choice we get to “play god” over. I believe most born-again Christians have a strong opinion against abortion. But our inaction and lack of response to do anything to prevent it is most glaring. We have a real opportunity to reach out and offer hope to the woman considering an abortion. There is a chance to present the Gospel. There is a chance to offer redemption. There are literally thousands of couples who are waiting to adopt. Life is too precious and the stamp of the Divine is on each and every person (born or unborn). Let us not sit idly by as Christians.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:13-16
5. We have sought the approval of man, not God
Show me anywhere in history a culture obsessed with itself and I will point you no further than our present day and time. We are a people in love with ourselves. And we want others to love us too. We are constantly looking for the attention of others all the while having an attention span which grows shorter and shorter by the tweet. The problem wouldn’t be so bad if Christians raised a different standard. But we have allowed ourselves to chase after the same fleeting wind that the American culture chases. Fame. Prestige. Power. Money. Sex. We want to look good to this world and fit in. We want to be accepted and loved. We have a desire to be liked because it gives us validation.
But what would happen if we lived counter-culturally? What if we started seeking less of man’s approval and more of God’s? If we live like that, we’re sure to take flack. We’ll probably lose favor with some. We might stop getting invited to certain events. But wouldn’t it be worth it? I’d rather not have the approval of this world and have God’s favor than to compromise my faith and walk in disobedience to God. Christians have an opportunity within all levels of society to point to Christ. We cannot manipulate the outcome; that’s up to God. But we are called to display Christ wherever we go. In order to do that, we must get past ourselves and the idol of self.
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

Whew! This was a lot of ground to cover. I hope you’ll stick with me and tune in again next week for Part 2. I believe God is stirring some things in my own heart through all of this. None of this easy to say nor is it going to win me any popularity contests. But that’s the exact reason why I feel so strongly to share it. My prayer is that many reading this will have a confirmation in their spirit. If you have been sensing some of these same things, I’d love to to hear from you.

God bless you all. Love you so much. Keep the faith.

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