How American Christianity differs from Kingdom Christianity, part 2
I wrote in an earlier blog about the differences between American Christianity and Kingdom Christianity. I want to continue with this thought process.
American Christianity has become prosperity and success driven whereas Kingdom Christianity is about giving.
In America bigger is always better. Americans believe that the key to the pursuit of happiness is built upon wealth and success. This idea has largely shaped the American church. You have not become a successful pastor if your church isn’t pushing big numbers. Too many pastors are making CEO salaries and living lavish lifestyles. I am not advocating poverty for pastors by no means. Nor am I saying that it’s wrong for Christians to have money. The Kingdom Christian will be a giving person, not of just money but of time, talent and ultimately their lives. Early Christians were not afraid to die for their faith. American Christians cry persecution too much when we don’t really know what persecution is really about.
True prosperity is having more than enough to take care of your needs so that you can give to others in their need. Kingdom Christianity is about giving so that others are blessed as well. Kingdom minded Christians are always seeking to be a blessing to other people because God is a giver. How we measure success is different than how God measures success.
American Christianity is about consumerism while Kingdom Christianity is others driven.
Americans are consumers. We like our stuff and our skyrocketing personal debt is proof of that. We want to have the latest and greatest. This idea has taken over the church. We have programs for everyone. We tend to find a church home based on how well it ministers to all of our personal needs and desires. The question that is mentally asked by people is “what can I gain from this church?” The question for Christians should be “how can I give to others?”
Consumerism shouldn’t have any place within the church. Consumerism is all about me and what I can get. Kingdom Christianity is all about others and what I can do to serve them. Our focus should always be on others. Kingdom Christianity is others based. It is based upon serving others as Christ set the example. Kingdom Christianity is about looking out for others interests more so than our own. It’s a concept foreign to American Christianity because in our American ideology we are taught to look out for ourselves first. When we serve others we release Kingdom life.
I’ve heard so many stories of American churches turning people away because they wouldn’t fit into their little “club”. The “street kids” would make too much of a mess. The homeless wouldn’t fit in with the folks from the upper side. People didn’t dress the proper way. Too much makeup, hair is too long, music is too worldly or loud, and the list goes on.
The church exists to disciple those around it. You can’t do that with a consumer mindset. You can’t do that with a “what do I get out of it” mindset. You have to be others driven. You have to put other’s needs ahead of your own if you want to be a Kingdom Christian.
American Christianity is all about happiness while Kingdom Christianity accepts suffering as part of their journey.
American Christian believes that God wants us happy. However, there is no scripture to back that up. God wants us joyful, which is a fruit of the Spirit. It’s an attitude, while happiness is based upon circumstances. American Christianity is obsessed with happiness and being fulfilled. Now I am not saying that God wants us sad and miserable. I do believe that God, as a loving Father, wants us to be happy people but I don’t believe that is his top priority. Nor do I believe that God is the cause of our suffering. The New Testament talks about the Christian suffering but in American Christianity we tend not to talk about that issue.
Kingdom Christianity accepts that suffering and even martyrdom are part of the walk with Jesus. While I will admit I don’t like this aspect of Christianity, I must accept that Jesus and the apostles talk about it. I don’t understand suffering. I don’t understand why God allows it. What I do know is that it is part of life and we must learn to embrace that fact. While I don’t believe that God causes it, he will use it to produce character and endurance within our lives.
American Christianity tends to shy away from suffering. We’ve gotten used to the good life and suffering isn’t part of the American dream. Early Christians considered it a great joy to suffer for Jesus.
American Christianity is all about democracy while Kingdom Christianity is all about submission.
Too many American churches are democratic in nature. Everyone has to vote on everything. This turns things into a political nightmare. I can’t even count the number of stories I’ve heard about church politics ruining relationships and even shutting down a church’s effectiveness.
Kingdom Christianity is about submitting one’s rights, thoughts, ideas and votes to the common good of everyone. I am not saying that voting in a church is necessarily wrong if everyone votes by putting the needs of others ahead of their own. This, sadly, is almost never the case.
The church is not a democracy. We have one head, which is Jesus. The head directs the body, not the other way around. We are too obsessed with our rights and opinions in the American Church. Kingdom Christianity is about submitting to one another. It’s about laying down your lives for those around you, even your enemies.
As I stated in the first post, I love my country and I love being an American. But I love being a Christian more. My first priority is Jesus’ kingdom. My second priority is my American heritage. I must never confuse the two.