“A critique of our culture in the light of the gospel is imperative if the church of Jesus Christ is to preserve a coherent sense of itself in a world that is torn and tearing. …A chastened patriotism is indispensable for the survival of the nation as well as of the church. …I see three areas where the American Dream is counter-evangelical – that is, in direct opposition to the message of Jesus and a life endorsed with the signature of Jesus. Our culture, as John Kavanaugh observed, ‘fosters and sustains a functional trinitarian god of consumerism, hedonism, and nationalism. Made in the image and likeness of such a god, we are committed to lives of possessiveness, pleasure, and domination.'” Brennan Manning
“Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.” James 5:1-6
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- How much pull does the “trinitarian god of consumerism, hedonism, and nationalism” have in your life? Do any of these forces dull your desire to see justice for others? Take a moment to think about each one.
- Are you sensitive to our national “need” for domination? Does you faith ever cause you to demur? Is it even imaginable that you would ever hear a loving but negative critique of our nation’s “trinitarian god” in your church? If not, how do you feel about that?
- We’re considerably more gentle towards the rich than the Bible is (cf. James, the Psalms, etc.) Are you rich? (Don’t answer too quickly.) Are your riches the result of God’s blessing? (Again, don’t answer too quickly.) Can you see how riches are negatively impacting others you know? your church? your family?
Abba, I confess with dismay my regular, explicit and subtle, allegiance to the trinitarian god of my nation. Please help me to sort out my allegiances in a way that justice will be a bigger part of my life.
For More: The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning
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