Overcomers? The problem with the American Dream

 And they overcame him  (the enemy) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
Revelation 12:11

I don't usually do posts like this.  Most of the time, I focus on encouragement.  Loving others.  Trusting God in daily struggles.  Raising kids.

Today I am compelled to be a bit more intense.  Perhaps controversial.  Maybe even offensive.
So read at your own risk.  If I offend you, I am sorry.  Well, maybe.

But I am sickened by how most of us Christians live.  Including me.

Reports that appear to be credible inform us of yet another execution of Christians by ISIS.  In the name of their faith, these evil beings slaughtered a row of men, simply because they were "people of The Cross."

That is horrible.  And I am wrenched with grief.

But that's not the subject of this post.

Those of us over here singing songs about "overcoming" and  beseeching God to fulfill our dreams and worrying about how to fund our retirement - that's what this post is about.

Is Christianity really about how to make ourselves more attractive, how to make more money, and how to raise kids that don't embarrass  us?  That's not salvation - that's narcissism. 

Verses like Rev. 17:11 don't appeal to us.  We make Philippians 4:19 to say "My God will supply all I want" and we twist Romans 8:28 into a lie that promises we will eventually get all our wants fulfilled.


What's the answer?  What can be done to help? What can just one person like me do?  I can't exactly trek over to Libya and bomb ISIS. (Although I wish somebody would...)

 Why are we sleeping?  I don't think it is because we don't care.  I think we feel helpless.  We don't know what to do.  So it's easy to slip into our dreams instead. 

We love our lives.  We love living the American Dream.  In spite of how we tell ourselves that life is so hard, we love our lives and we sure do love our dreams.

The problem with the American Dream is that we're asleep.
Asleep like centuries before when The Crusades massacred thousands.
Asleep like decades ago when 6 million Jewish people were slaughtered.
Asleep like now when people are hungry and Christians are persecuted, even executed, across the sea and  millions of babies are aborted right here under our noses.

Dreaming the American Dream - I am beginning to think it is incompatible with following Christ.
We are not called to love our lives, to pursue our dreams.  Instead we are called to NOT love our lives, but to lay them down.

Following Him means NOT loving my life but even counting it a privilege to die for loving Him.

I felt frustrated in the midst of my sadness.  My helplessness. What does it look like to "not love our lives", dying to self to the point of even death? What difference could I make in this world of evil? 

Then the Lord reminded me of what one person CAN do. One or two or three together.  I've seen it. There are things right around you and me and all of us that can be done.  Even if it doesn't feel like we are fighting ISIS, if we are laying down our lives, me and you and you and you, then ISIS and prejudice and evil CAN be defeated.

We can

Found a free health clinic.
Volunteer our gifts and time at a free health care clinic.
Foster children in crisis.
Help a girl in a crisis pregnancy make the wise choice.
Give generously to organizations like Voice of the Martyrs or Open Doors or Samaritans Purse, groups that are literally "boots on the ground" in the places of peril.
Teach at places like Downtown Academy and give at-risk kids a chance to succeed.
Walk a friend through the dark tunnel of depression.
To shepherd a young woman through court dates and into civility.
Meet the needs that we become aware of beyond our own little world.
Ask God to make us aware of needs beyond our own little worlds.

Most of us will not be called to the point of martyrdom.  But all of us are called to lay down our lives for the sake of Christ.  To follow Him, to serve others, to die daily.

This means we have to wake up.

 Maybe it's time we changed our dreams. And love NOT our lives....even unto death.

Back to those recent martyrs in Libya.  While I was praying for my decrepit dryer to hang on, their families were likely praying for these lives to be spared. Oh, dear Jesus, please grant them grace to not turn back from following you because you counted their fathers/brothers/husbands worthy to suffer and die for you.  May they, like their loved ones, love NOT their lives...even unto death.

And, dear Jesus, please forgive me and all others who have just been dreaming.  Wake us up.  To pray.  And to dream dreams of YOUR glory instead of our own comfort and pleasure.