Allow me to get myself into serious trouble today. I stumbled upon an article in RELEVANT today that expresses something that deserves a bit of comment. The article is “5 Lies American Culture Feeds Us Every Day.” (I might add that one such lie, not mentioned in the article, is that being “relevant” is important.)
A couple of the five “lies” are good points. One, “You Can Be Anything You Want to Be” is perhaps something our culture does not tell us as much, or in the way, the author supposes.
We might not directly say it, but we sometimes believe it: “Who cares if Jesus said stuff about losing your life? Who cares about all of that radical sacrifice stuff? God gave you a brain, He expects you to use it.” Tragically, Christianity in America often confuses faith in God with just faith in self with some Godly values attached. Translation: God thinks logically. He would never expect you to make a decision that flies in the face of self-reliance. Don’t sell your house. Don’t give your savings to feed the hungry. Don’t move into the inner city. It is dangerous there.
This kind of thought seems to be the offspring of the “Crazy Love” fad in Christianity. I was once asked to review that book, and in spite of its popularity, I found it to be full of what I call enthusiastically shallow thinking. In fact, it is an interesting case of “poisoning the well.” That is, if you disagree with this approach, you are just exhibiting that kind of individualism that we all know should be condemned.
We need to remember that Jesus sometimes spoke in hyperbole. He once told us to cut off one of our hands if required. Should we simply “shut off our brains” as implied in the quotation above and start cutting? Or should we think about what Jesus no doubt meant by what He said?
I realize that this is one of those uses of the mind that author of the RELEVANT article condemns, but let us suppose that every Christian sold his house and gave away all his savings to feed the hungry. Let’s suppose these Christians convinced a significant part of the population to become Christians and join them in the selling and giving.
Soon, all these people would join the ranks of the homeless and the hungry. But not only that, since their savings would no longer be part of the pool of capital that buys the tools that makes the things that people need to exist, at some point there would be no way to make the wealth that everyone is supposed to give away. Would God simply begin to do a daily “feeding of the five billion” miracle? Or does God normally care for us via means that we must carefully manage, say, like stewards?
And if the inner city is dangerous but we are required to live there anyway, should we step in front of a bus once in a while too? For that matter, I don’t remember Jesus or the Apostles even talking about where we should live. Did not the Apostle Paul say that failure to take care of the needs of your family made you worse than an unbeliever?
That, of course, is thinking. And the author rejects thinking – except, we must suppose, for his thinking about culture and its five lies.
It is not “faith in God with just faith in self with some Godly values attached” to be both generous and to provide for your family, as the Apostle commands. And it is not loving to take actions that you know will make you and your family dependent upon others in some attempt to fulfill the fantasies of the “crazy love” misguided way of looking at life.