I have grown up hearing how blessed we are for having been born in America. You probably have too. It is a common understanding that America is the most blessed nation on earth. Everyone from school teachers to preachers to our neighbors frequently talk about our blessings, about the American Dream, about our wealth, privileges, education system, material possessions, and freedoms; and I couldn’t argue that we seem to have it made here in the good ‘ole US of A!
Now, don’t get me wrong! We do have it made! People all over the world struggle and fight to get into our country for very legitimate reasons, and from a worldly standpoint, I get it! The American Dream is an ideal well-known around the world, offering hope to many. Our freedoms are advertised in every nation and exceed those in the rest of the world. We have free education, free libraries, big houses, lots of cars, well-maintained infrastructure, and dead churches.
Is the American Dream actually a curse?
Yes, I just said that. Dead churches, or rather, dead believers, a dead Body. Dead as a doornail. D. E. A. D. Grateful and dead. Now, I am sorry if this puts a burr in your behind, but America does not have the corner on the market of faith. We still export our brand of Christianity all over the world at a rate that exceeds any other country, along with our used clothing and porn, but when it comes to active faith in a holy God, much of the world has us beat.
In America, nearly every household has access to at least one Bible, and Christian identifying households often have multiple Bibles per family member. But just as being aliterate is worse than being illiterate, so is it worse to own a Bible while being scripturally aliterate.
While believers in China weep over receiving a scrap of a page of holy Scripture, we casually leave our multiple Bibles on a shelf in preference for other forms of entertainment. While believers in Pakistan may meet in secret to worship together, believers in America skip church in favor of Sunday brunch at a waterfront restaurant. While believers in North Korea are tortured and murdered for their faith, they never recant their belief in Jesus, while believers in America cower and hide their faith so they don’t risk losing friends on Facebook.our privilege, luxury, freedoms, possessions have made us #spiritually weak and sick Click To Tweet
All our privilege, luxury, freedoms, and possessions have made us spiritually weak, gluttonous, and sick. We are dying spiritually, to a large degree, here in our blessed nation; and that begs the question: if the result of our blessings is death, are they really blessings? Is America the most blessed nation?if the result of the #americanblessings is death, are they really blessings? Click To Tweet
Let’s look at what Jesus said blessings look like:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you….”
Based on this passage of Jesus’ own words, America isn’t the most blessed nation at all! Rather we have a reputation for being blessed, for being spiritual, for being rich, but we are actually, wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked; and I fear God will spit us from His mouth.we have a reputation for being #blessed, but we're wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked... Click To Tweet
Sure, it’s “nice” to call ourselves blessed. It’s easy and popular to say, but every time I hear a pastor say how blessed we are, I see images of those believers in China weeping over receiving a scrap of scripture because they hold God’s words as precious! And I can’t help but think they are the ones who are blessed.
Now, before you think I am shaking my finger at you, I’d like to remind you that I have four more fingers pointing back at me. I was born and raised American, living the American Dream, with a nice house, cars, food on the table three meals a day, access to schools, medical care and a host of luxuries we take for granted while people in other countries are willing to die to get here. I struggle with the same gluttonous culture that distracts me from experiencing the fullness of God’s awesomeness. And this is precisely why this bothers me! It doesn’t bother me because all you people aren’t getting it right! It bothers me because these are very real distractions, very real struggles of being an American.
There’s no point in wondering whether I’d know Jesus, or have even heard his name had I been born elsewhere in the world. God destined me to be born here. We don’t get to choose our birthplace or the blessings that do or don’t come with it. However, we can choose what we do with what we have! We can remind ourselves that believers in other parts of the world have as much to offer us spiritually as we can offer them materially, and theirs is, ultimately, of much greater worth. We can stop seeing ourselves as saviors of the world, and instead dig deep spiritually in hopes that some of their spiritual wealth might rub off on us. We need to stop preaching the American brand of Christianity of ease and plenty, and instead desire to live the persecuted church dream, of total reliance on and passionate pursuit of Jesus.