Because I was born and raised in the USA, my soul is steeped in attributes promoted by the business culture: efficiency, cleverness, and the ability to get what I want by pushing my way through.
After all, from kindergarten I’ve been taught that
- You can do anything, if you only want it enough!
- When you work smarter, not harder, you get ahead!
- Be confident – a positive attitude is the attitude of a leader!
The Business of Christianity
And because I always prided myself on being a good student, I unfortunately mastered these lessons, to the point that, when I learned about God and chose to live my life with Him (I’m really trying to avoid the vague term, “came to Jesus”). I brought years worth of corporate teaching into the relationship which was fine, really, in the new church Christian culture I had entered, because the same business maxims I had internalized were here as well, only with different wording:
- You can do anything in Jesus as long as you have enough faith, and express it the right way!
- When you lead the right life with Jesus — rise early for Quiet Time, participate in church activities, attend Sunday School, join small groups, and pray with positive faith – you’ll get ahead!
- Faith never expresses doubt or negativity Faith BELIEVES! If you have chronic problems in your life, it’s because you don’t believe enough!
Obviously, this is a simplification, and the entire U.S. Christianity message isn’t limited to these three statements, but the substance is there: these are some rules to help you succeed, get ahead, or (to put it more spiritually), live the abundant Christian life.
Rules Become Laws
But these rules don’t work, really, because they have nothing to do with Jesus, His words, His love for us, and His incredible example (which He’s constantly, and gently, teaching us to follow) of trusting our Father in heaven. All cultures bring their unique aspects – both good and bad – into the Christian arena, and because the U.S. culture is strongly influenced by making money and getting ahead materialistically, these particular idols set themselves up on the raised dais, well disguised behind esoteric terminology.
The Statements Are True, Sort of, But with a Twist
There’s nothing wrong with hard work, brainstorming, and taking initiative – indeed, because we are made in our Father’s image, we share his love for creativity and joy. But it’s very easy to confuse hard work with busyness, brainstorming with cunning, and taking initiative with pushing others out of the way – all actions not remotely associated with Christ’s work on earth – or in heaven.
When Jesus expressed confidence, it was in the love of His Father; when He prayed, it was frequently in an isolated place, in conversation with His Father and ours; when He chided His disciples for their lack of faith, it was not prelude to punishment; when asked to define the greatest, most important commandment, He emphasized love – for God, and our neighbor.
Faith, hope, love, trust – these are not attitudes we put on like a suit; they are attributes we develop when we become like the children in our Father’s household. And children, as any savvy CEO will tell you, are not cutthroat businessmen.