THE FOUR SIRITUAL FLAWS: WHY CHRISTIANITY DIED IN AMERICA
Spiritual Flaw #1: The Jesus We Never Knew
The American Jesus looks something like this:
Jesus as a 1st century Middle Eastern peasant probably looked something like this:
American Christianity forgets that Jesus is a Jew through and through. He cannot be understood apart from that Jewishness.
To forget this and to try and read Jesus as an American is to misunderstand the New Testament almost completely.
Americans also forget that Jesus is cross-eyed. He sees everything from the perspective of the cross which turns everything in our prudential calculating way of living for ourselves, by ourselves, and by our own strength on its head. His upside-down, out-of-the-box, round peg in a square hole, a question-wrapped-in-a-riddle-surrounded-
by-an-enigma life calls all that into
Spiritual Flaw #2: From the Gospel We’ve Never Heard
The gospel we have heard in America runs something like this: we are sinners, separated from God. But God has a plan to rescue us that involves Jesus dying on the cross for us for the forgiveness of our sins. We accept this in faith and experience peace with God and life with God forever in heaven.
Problem is this is not the gospel! It’s about the benefits of the gospel. The gospel is the glad announcement that in Jesus Christ God has won the victory over the powers of sin, evil, and death.
His death and resurrection inaugurated new creation, reconciles the world to God, and enables his people to live as the prototype of this new creation that is the world’s destiny.
The gospel we have heard here focuses on individuals and their life in another world - The biblical gospel focuses on the community of faith and its life in this world.
Spiritual Flaw #3: Out of the Bible We’ve Never Read
The Bible is not a book of history, a moral or doctrinal guidebook, or a daily devotional reader. It has elements of all these in it but to read it just for them is to miss the purpose and misread the content of the Bible.
The Bible story told much in the fashion of a piece of stained glass art. Its story telling is shaped by literary
style, worship, and the images and ideas of its cultural setting.
Therefore, the Bible is written for us but not to us. To hear its message we must listen to it as it comes to us not as we would like it to be.
The Bible tells the story of God’s pursuit of his eternal purpose to be with his people in fellowship and love, Jesus Christ’s central role in that, and our finding our identity and vocation in that story. It’s a matter of our finding our lives in God’s story rather than trying to find God within the confines of our story.
Spiritual Flaw #4: In the Church We’ve Never Experienced
There’s little doubt the church as we have known it (Euro-tribal church) is dying out. It’s impact on public life is mostly negligible and negative now.
The chief aliment of the church has been believing there is something Christianly important about America. So important that the church here signed on to be the chaplain of the good ship America.
We’ve forgotten that since the resurrection and Pentecost God has no nation he calls his own. He’s the Lord of all nations. But God’s people, the New Testament analogy to Israel is the church.
Transnational, multiethnic, beholden to no geopolitical entity or ideology, the church lives in every country implementing and extending the victory of Jesus as God’s subversive, counter-revolutionary movement.
Cross-eyed Jesus requires a cross-eyed church not shills for America. Especially not Donald Trump’s America!
The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ family values. To live out these family values will make us subversive of the American Creed – to live for myself, by myself, and by my own power. We will live, on the contrary, for Christ and the church, with the community of faith, and by the gifts and graces of others.
To live and order our lives according to the gospel is to be a counter-revolutionary movement. Counter the revolution away from God in sin and attitudes, actions, patterns, and systems it inscribed in a fallen world.
To live as if being Christian and American basically overlap and a good American and a good Christian are the same thing is a blasphemous heresy!
The Jesus We’ve Never Known from the Gospel We’ve Never Heard out of the Bible We’ve Never Read in the Church We’ve Never Experienced – this is why the church in America has died.