When I hear the phrase “the American Dream”, the picture that comes to mind is a beautiful tw0-story house with a yard that is perfectly manicured. It’s in the perfect neighborhood so the kids go to the right school and dad has the perfect job. They have at least 2 children who do well in school and only get into minor trouble. They have one car that fits the whole family, but they only need one car because dad has a great job and goes to work every morning and mom stays home and cooks the most glorious food so the family can sit down together at the dinner table when dad gets home from work and have a nice meal and talk about their day. And mom, the house wife, has the most fashionable clothes and the perfect hair-do and manages to get all the chores done without breaking a sweat. They participate in all the community events. And mom and dad get along so well with only a few minor spats. Anyone picture Donna Reed?
If we modernize it, it’s the big house and the big yard and the perfect kids and TWO cars and the best job for dad AND mom, and the right town and the perfect friends and a peaceful marriage and all the latest electronics and gadgets, and the latest and greatest fashion (for us and for our kids). Right?
Did you know there’s an American Church dream too? We want a church that provides lots of opportunities so we don’t have to make ourselves uncomfortable to participate. And a church that does lots of flashy things to keep our attention because we like to think “I’m ADD”. And a church that will let us volunteer to the level we want to without demanding more or trying to improve our character. We just want a church that will love me “just as I am” and then let me go home that way. We want a children’s program that will teach our children about God and about how to obey their parents and their teachers and how to respect others so we won’t have to. And we want a marriage series to teach our spouse what marriage is all about and remind them of their duties.
At Catalyst I heard Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson ask the question “what are we pledging allegiance to?” They said American Christians have an “American story” that we overlay with “belief in Jesus”. They hear us say “I love God” but they see us live and strive for the American dream. And there are churches that strive to be the American church to help American Christians achieve their American dream. And according to Darren and Jon, that makes the story of the Church “hypocrisy” (we are the Church). God called us to be believers and sons in His Kingdom, not Americans.
Do we really want to live God’s Story, or are we happy with our story of hypocrisy?