Putting the American Dream to death

I’ve had this nagging sensation lately. You know that feeling, when you just can’t shake a thought. No matter how much you don’t like it, regardless of what you do to rid yourself of it, it just stays with you. That’s been my last few weeks.

You see, I’ve spent two weeks straight in church planting training, and in the midst of it, this thought came to mind:

What is the goal of a church?

The answer should be simple. It should be the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, but is it? Is the goal of our churches to share Jesus, make disciples, worship the Trinity, and love one another? Or is it something else altogether?

My fear – this nagging feeling – is that we’ve made the American Dream the goal of the church. We’ve taken obedience to Christ and a life on mission and traded it in for a good marriage, happy kids who behave well enough, and financial security. Does that thought put a pain in your stomach as it has mine?

Or perhaps you disagree. Your pastor preaches from the Bible, and your small group prays, but for what? If you look at sermon titles and series from a bulk of churches, what issues do they attempt to help? A good marriage, happy kids who behave well enough, and financial security.

I fear that we’ve put these things in priority above Jesus.

I once heard a pastor say, in a message about debt, that this sermon would be “light” on Bible verses, because he wanted it to be practical. And that has been a common theme in modern churches – to go “light” on Scripture in order to speak to felt needs.

The greatest felt need is that of forgiveness and atonement. The greatest need is Christ. Everything else should come from that change. Everything else is the result of a regenerated heart and the process of sanctification.

To put anything in front of Jesus is not being seeker-sensitive, seeker-friendly, or even seeker-driven. It’s idolatry. And I’m afraid that this generation will be judged for preaching and encouraging idolatry from the pulpit.

It’s time to put The American Dream to death. It’s time to put our desires, our hopes, our wants, our very lives in the hands of Jesus and seek to obey Him, serve Him, love Him, and worship Him. Things will work out better that way.

Painting by Jordan Szymanowski

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