Many Christians today are blessed to live in the United States of America. This country has been religiously tolerant for its entire history, and has one of the highest standards of living in the world. We, as Christians, are able to go about our daily lives unimpeded from many of the troubles that beset others in different countries.
For all of its blessedness and freedoms, however, America also poses a stumbling block for Christians. Many of the ideals of American society are completely contrary to the ideals of the Christian. Let us look at how becoming too deeply imbued in American society will lead to great conflict with Christ:
- Money. The United States of America does have a national religion, and its idol is the money sign. In America, everything has a price; how many people have been led into miserable lives due to the desire for money? Paul writes to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:9-10:
But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Therefore, the Christian in America must be on guard, forsaking the attitude of wealth and to aspire for what Paul urged Timothy to in verse 11:
But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
- Pride. The United States of America is a country full of pride, some of which is not unjustified. The U.S.A. has risen from thirteen small colonies to the leading power of the world in only two hundred years. Unfortunately, however, the pride of America has become overweening, preventing the country to admit when it is at fault. The Christian must stay away from such pride, and act humbly, as Jesus illustrates in a parable of Luke 18:9-14:
And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself:
‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’
But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying,
‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’
I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
- Selfishness. America is very much a “me” country. Everyone is out for him or herself; to most, little matters except for reaching their goals and being seen as “successful.” Care for others is only secondary, if that. The Christian, however, should think of himself last if he is to be considered great, as Christ did in John 13:12-17:
So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them,
“Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
These attitudes are unfortunately deeply-rooted into the American culture, and it is easy to fall prey to them. We, as Christians, must remain diligently on guard to follow Christ over the United States of America. In closing, we must remember that the poorest of Americans is more often than not richer than most people on other continents. Every Christian living in America would be wise to heed this advice from Paul to Timothy, 1 Timothy 6:17-19:
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.