American Christianity carries its fair share of misconceptions. If left unexamined, these misconceptions can compromise the effectiveness of the Church, detrimentally impacting the way we minister and live out the gospel. Sure, not every American Christian operates under such assumptions, but because enough do, it is wise to point out the truth.
Here are just three prevalent and important assumptions, taken from an inexhaustible list, that would be helpful to debunk:
1. It is going to get better.
When we can’t think of something helpful and true to say, we often say something false. We love to tell the lonely single person that God has someone special just for them. Maybe He does but maybe He doesn’t. We love to tell the sick person they are going to get better. It is possible. However, they could also get much, much worse.
It is never wrong to believe the Lord for healing, to seek the Lord for hope, but hear this: The truth is, regardless of the outcome or circumstance, God is still good even if things don’t “get better.” Whether we are in a tailspin of depression, the throes of cancer or the agony of broken relationships, we cannot promise that things will “get better” until we are called home or Christ returns, but we can say with great assurance that God is still good, faithful and trustworthy.
See Daniel 3:16-18 – “But if not…”
See Luke 5:12-13 – “if you will, you can…”
2. The Spirit tells me “no” through discomfort, apprehension and fear.
When we don’t want to do something, we often accept our aversion as God’s direction. Americans love the path of least resistance. We approach circumstances with the question, “What is the least I can do or put in for the maximum return?” The truth is that there are many things we are called to do, particularly along the lines of risk and sacrifice, which will cause discomfort, apprehension and fear.
When Jesus says, “If anyone wants to come after me, he must pick up his cross and follow me,” He calls us to sacrifice ourselves. The Bible explicitly tells us how much we are to trust our gut when Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to man but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 3:5 even points out, “Do not lean on your own understanding.”
Going somewhere, saying something or carrying out an action for the sake of the kingdom and not to make much of yourself almost always involves discomfort; therefore, your level of apprehension about undertaking that step does not serve as good indicator for Spirit leading you. Rather, we should continually gear up to overcome and face our fears for the sake of the gospel. There are many, many things you will not “feel” like doing that you should be doing. Instead of basing God’s will on your whims, seek the wisdom of God’s Word and church. They will both advise you to laboriously wrestle through all circumstances in prayer.
See Jonah 1-4 “but Jonah rose to flee…”
See Acts 9:10-19 “but Ananias answered…”
3. My actions speak loud enough to communicate the gospel.
We often believe and live as if it is unnecessary to verbally communicate the gospel because our behavior makes it obvious enough. Yet Scripture presents “telling the good news” as not only necessary but urgent. Many times I’ve heard St. Francis of Assisi misquoted, “Preach the gospel and if necessary use words.” The truth of the quote should be applied to taking a true and accurate introspective stock of your life. With an accurate self-appraisal, the necessity to “use words” will become absolutely clear in order for someone to know the gospel.
No one lives righteously enough to explain Christ without words and through mere actions. Sure, our actions are important, and we should be above reproach, but I’ve seen many people of other faiths outshine Christians in service, fidelity and a number of other areas. We should all be living the gospel and accompanying it with clear words that point to the truth of our triune God who is living and active in our lives.
See Job 38-42:6 “I have uttered what I did not understand…”
See Romans 10:14 “Without someone preaching…”