We are approaching lent, so it is a good time for confession. I tend to favor the more private type of confessions, but I think there is something more to this one than just me. It has to do with our American Idol.
Yes, there really is just one, I think. It’s me.
(Well, probably you too–as “me.”)
I am completely self referenced, self focused, self concerned, self centered, self promoting…you get the point.
And I was a full time missionary for years, making huge financial sacrifices for the sake of the ministry. But that ministry was about fulfilling “my calling.” After all, money is really only an idol when it fulfills the desires of the self. My desires were not about money so much as “freedom” and autonomy. I was ready to sacrifice anything voluntarily…as long as it was voluntarily. No sacrifice was too great, as long as I got to choose the sacrifice.
I gave God things–I, like David, could honestly say that I would not give God anything that did not cost me something–and I was fully aware of what it cost me. Sacrifices, no sweat. I was no materialist. Mammon had nothing in me. Oh the superiority I felt for all those hard working American Christians wrapped up in stuff, working themselves to death to meet the demands of Mammon. But I was a free spirit, an idealist, a dreamer. I gave everything for my ministry and my family.
And I was fully invested in myself–my happiness, my fulfillment…self fulfillment.
“Delight yourself in the Lord,” and He will fulfill your hearts desires. That is how I understood it. That is the American Church mantra. “Your best life now”…at least the preacher that penned that one is honest; I suspect it is the faith of the vast majority of us, even those of us who ridicule that preacher. All this and heaven too.
Then I started seeing the images and hearing the stories…the ones of those Christian men holding the bodies of their dead babies or dying slowly on a cross while watching their families raped and murdered in front of them. We post our support to Facebook. We talk about the blood of the martyrs as the seed of the church. We commend them from a distance these great ones who stand before the throne of God in white robes asking how long this has to keep happening. And we feel fulfilled for “standing with the persecuted.”
But if you’ll pardon my language–I think it is warranted–all I can think when I am honest with myself is “damn, I don’t think I want to stand with them unless I can bring a gun. ISIS sure as hell wouldn’t take me like that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a coward. I’ll run headlong at death, but they aren’t taking me and mine without a fight.”
Suddenly I understand why Peter ran. He was ready to sacrifice for Jesus, ready to die with Jesus. He had it all figured out…the sword of the Lord and Gideon and all that–unbeatable odds. He would have made a good American.