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When You Finally Realize That God Is Not an American

When You Finally Realize That God Is Not an American

What if God is not an American, and His primary concern is not to keep us from having first-world problems? Is it possible that the Lord has other plans than our pursuit of happiness, and that He may not be totally on board with our ambition to have things our way? Sometimes we can fall asleep at the wheel of life, and the Lord brings a correction that reminds us where our focus should be. It is in those moments of challenge that we finally realize that God is not an American.

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God Thinks Differently

Sometimes God’s ways are not easy to discern (Isaiah 55:8-9). Our thoughts and desires are not always His. A Sovereign person functions from a macro perspective that encompasses the eternal past, the current present, and the eternal future flawlessly. His created beings are not like that—at all. Our view is no farther than the horizon before us or today’s to-do list.

We don’t understand our pasts correctly, and we can’t clearly see into the future (James 4:13-15). What we think we want is not always what we need. There are times in our lives where the thing that seems perfect and feels right ends in disappointment, even though we didn’t realize it at the time of wanting it.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death (Proverbs 14:12).

Because of our finiteness, having God as the object of our faith becomes vital. But there is an inherent problem: trusting someone other than ourselves is not only un-American; it is counter to what is native in us. “Adam ever liveth,” and our Adamic natures recoil at the thought of depending on someone other than ourselves.

God Is Different

Our sense of justice for all, self-protection, and fairness can drive us further into ourselves, rather than force us to God. We instinctively react this way because we have this intuitive knowledge (gut feeling) that the Lord is very different from us (Genesis 50:20). The thing we must realize is that our knowledge that He’s not like us can become a way of questioning His goodness, according to how we interpret what good should be.

Our “fallen senses” drive us to ask two questions about God: Is He good? And more acutely, does He mean good for me? These are watershed questions that will alter your life. For example, the day Jesus died on the cross, these questions were no longer theoretical concepts disassociated from the disciple’s penetrating anxiety. They were riveting realities that sent them scurrying for their self-protection.

His friends eventually repented of their sins and began to embrace His counterintuitive perspective and methods, which eventually saved them from themselves. There is a salvation that lands us in heaven, but there is an “earthly salvation” that practically redeems us from ourselves. The disciples started living a post-resurrection life of faith once they accepted that what they wanted and what God gave them were at odds.

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The un-American Path

Perhaps these three lists will aid you in thinking about these concepts. The first list is a few things that all Christians want. It’s not an exhaustive list, but an abbreviated version of some of the Lord’s benefits.

  1. We want to have eternal life.
  2. We want someone to declare us not guilty—justified.
  3. We want someone to clothe us in righteousness.
  4. We want to experience freedom from shame.

This second list reveals the cost of these benefits of Christianity. As you read, think about the price of our gifts while asking the Lord to help you to grow in gratitude for His incredible sacrifice. Our benefits were not free; they cost Christ more than we could ever imagine.

  1. Jesus gave His life so we could have eternal life.
  2. Jesus drank the Father’s wrath so we could be not guilty.
  3. Jesus became naked to clothe us in His righteousness.
  4. Jesus was accused instead of us so we would be free from shame.

As you can see, to get all these good things, Jesus had to do hard things. Christ is our example who lays out a path for us to walk (1 Peter 2:18-25). The guarantee is that if we take up our crosses, though the journey is hard, the result is beyond our wildest dreams.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul (Matthew 16:24-26)?

The Way of the Cross

Now comes the challenging part for all of us. What is most vital to you? Health, wealth, and other “American benefits” that are most certainly attainable from a prosperous country? I’m not suggesting you should pray for sickness or financial reversals, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for your blessings. May you live a long life and become wealthy (especially if it leads to generosity).

Having fitness or financial goals are not wrong. More power to you, but the more crucial thing, which all of us should desire, is how do you attain the benefits from the first list? Will you spend time reflecting and praying while thinking about the path to those wonderful benefits from our generous Lord? Here is the third list, which are some of the things you must do to enjoy the riches of Christ.

  • You must die to yourself to enjoy eternal life.
  • You must come out of the world to be free from condemnation.
  • You must be last to receive His righteousness.
  • You must think less about yourself to rid yourself of shame.

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul (Mark 8:36-37).

I’m confident that you can add more things to all three of my lists: (1) what you want, (2) what Christ did, and (3) how to attain them, but you get the point. The primary question for now is, what do you really want? What is most essential to you? I trust that Christ is your highest prize.

Call to Action

  1. Are you getting what you want out of life? Will you spend time thinking about what you desire, what you currently have, and how those things line-up with the big idea of this article—Christ, the best prize?
  2. Perhaps your life is not unfolding the way you had hoped. When you don’t get what you wanted, how is God working in your life? What are some of the fruit that has come through your disappointments?
  3. Are you resting today? Imagine yourself standing where the disciples were, observing their dying friend. Will you ask God to give you contentment that passes your natural understanding because you realize that He’s not an American, but someone far more exceptional, who can do supernatural things?
  4. Perhaps it would serve you to reach out to a friend to help realign your heart to the counter-intuitive message of the gospel.

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