When we settle for the American Dream.

Sometimes I feel like writing, but I can’t find the words, so I just read a bunch of old blogs and realize I had already found the words a few years ago… So here’s a re-post from August 4, 2011.

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One of my favorite passages in scripture is in Matthew when Jesus calls his first disciples.

Matthew 4:18-22 –

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

At once they left their nets and followed him. It was those words that God used to confirm in my heart his plan for me to fly to South Africa 3 days after I graduated from high school.

I’ve been thinking lately about the attitude of Christians in the American church and what it would look like for us to drop our nets. We don’t do much net dropping anymore. We settle for a mostly normal life, hardly giving God any of part of it. We fail to realize how big God is. We ignore the Holy Spirit. We are afraid of the Holy Spirit. We don’t realize the incredible significance of the Holy Spirit working in our lives.

Maybe you will jump up and disagree, but think about this:

When was the last time you depended on the Holy Spirit completely, fully, to the point where you would have lost something of great significance if you had put your trust in him and he had not been there?

When was the last time you were so amazed by a miracle that was completely unexplainable that you told everyone you knew?

When was the last time you worshiped without abandon, shouting and dancing because you were filled with the joy of the Lord and the presence of the Holy Spirit?

When was the last time you verbally shared God’s love (the Gospel) with someone?

If you’re anything like me and a good part of the American church, the answer to most of these questions is “I don’t remember.” We’re good at pretending that we can do life on our own, and the truth is, we can. We can do the human life pretty well. It might have some bumps, but we can make it through. We can let our lives look just like everyone elses’ and because we live in America, we can succeed and be good people.

What we can’t do is live a kingdom life without the Holy Spirit; we can’t live without God and expect to live an extraordinary life that looks different from everyone else; and we can’t expect to see God if we are not seeking him.

We have settled for a very small god. We have settled for the god who shows up to our church on Sunday morning. We have settled for the god who wants to see us succeed in our plans. We have settled for the god who loves the American Dream because that’s what it means to be blessed. (Really!? Having lots of stuff is a blessing?)

But God is still the same radical God that he has always been. He still does the same radical things like calling people out of their normal, fisherman kind of lives into something extraordinary; healing a man from blindness by rubbing mud on his eyes; or feeding 5,000 people by multiplying a small boy’s lunch.

God is incredible, but we take one look at him, one look at the American Dream, and decide his way is too hard. We settle for normal when God has extraordinary waiting for us if we would just choose to fall in love and let him lead our lives.

God is the God who tells a young, 22-year-old woman to start a non-profit ministry in Eastern Uganda and love on orphans because that’s where his heart is. He is the One who told my best friend to stay in Japan after hundreds thousands of earthquakes and the tsunami because the nation is so far from knowing him. He is the God who tells a family to move from Oregon to Nashville because that is where he wants to use their gifts. God is the One who uses a little 9-year old girl’s death and dream to raise nearly 1 million dollars toward building wells in Africa. God is the God who gives a church a dream to renew their city and bring a revival to their country.

God is a God of the incredible. Now we must make the choice to leave our nets and follow him.

What would it look like for you to leave your nets (your normal life) and follow God with all your heart?

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