One thing that I have realized since coming back from Africa is that the America is very comfortable. Even in the American church I see that we are very comfortable. We never had to worshipping in secret because the fear of being arrested or tortured for our faith. We've never had to live without heat or worry about dying of AIDS or malaria,or not being able to have medicines or see a doctor. Everything is at our finger tips. Because we are used to living this way-it becomes the norm- we think everyone lives this way. The truth is that we are the ones who aren't normal.
More than 660 million people without sanitation live on less than $2 a day, and more than 385 million on less than $1 a day. (2006 United Nations Human Development Report)That won't even buy you a drink at Starbucks!
I think I thought the same way most Americans think. 'Live a good long, happy life, live safe and comfortable.' After seeing poverty, seeing their faces, holding their hands and seeing their love for God and others- poverty isn't just a statistic- it's people. I will never be the same. My life will never be the same. My view will never be the same.These people who have NOTHING- who don't have a car, nice house, designer clothes, who don't worship in a luxurious church building but in a field or mud hut, who don't have access to a hospital or medicine or even a Bible in their language- they are the ones who have the most JOY! They are the ones who are smiling the most, laughing the most and singing the loudest! The ones in poverty. Poverty is horrible- millions die because of it. I'm not saying that poverty is a good thing. But believers in poverty is what I am talking about. They have so much to teach us and for us to learn and glean from their lives.
In America, we are rushing around, always on the go, we complain about everything- the heat,the cold, the slow drivers in the fast lane, our sickness, our food, how bad we have been treated, our clothes etc. I am SO guilty of this! We think we deserve to get the best out of life. To go get a 4 year degree then onto grad school, make a six digit salary, build a huge house and drive a Lexus. That is the American dream. I think (as a bleiever) it is the wrong dream.
God blesses abundantly. It is a blessing to have a nice home, a car to drive and a good job. But in America it has become an idol. To live the American dream and live happily-ever-after.
We say we have enough God in our life but not enough stuff, money, cars, house etc. We pursue earthly treasures while we say we are pursuing God. Are we only following God to keep us out of Hell? Because if we were really sold-out for God our lives would look much different. All the world has to offer wouldn't matter anymore and all that would matter would be to live to glorify God and make HIM known. I am so guilty of this. Eric Ludy says this:
"There is a simple truth in the kingdom of God; The more beautiful and stunning you are to this world, the more disagreeable you are in the eyes of Heaven. Or the inverse could be stated; the more lovely you are to heaven, the more disagreeable you will, by nature be in the eyes of this world. Heaven and Earth represent two contrary systems and they are at odds one with another."
-Eric Ludy "The Bravehearted Gospel" pp.97
When I look at the American church after being in Africa- I can't help but think of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19. He asked Jesus how to have eternal life. Jesus answered, "You can receive eternal life if you keep the commandments." (v.17)The rich young ruler had kept all the commandments. What did Jesus ask him to do? "Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect,go,sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." (v.21) He couldn't do it. He would rather have his possessions, riches and comforts on this earth over eternity with Jesus!
Is the American church a bunch of rich young rulers? Is our possessions getting in the way of truly following Christ? Are you will to give it all up? Are we too attached to our possessions, riches and comforts where if we were asked to give it all up would we walk way like the rich man because we are too attached? Is our possessions and comfort and safety so important that we would rather live in the comfort of luxury than truly follow Jesus?
Jesus doesn't call for us to live the American dream. To live for wealth and possessions and stuff. He may bless us abundantly but it is not our purpose. He calls for us to TAKE UP OUR CROSS AND FOLLOW HIM. To leave everything behind and follow Him. He may call some of us to be missionaries in Africa, Asia, South America or other places in the world. Or He may call us to live in America and shine His light to the hurting and needy here. Whether in a third-world country or in America each and everyone of us has this call on our life. TO FOLLOW HIM. What is our response? Do we walk away back to our earthly treasures or do we abandon everything a RUN after Him?