What has your Christian faith required you to sacrifice?
A job? A relationship? Money and financial security? A hobby, a lifelong dream?
Michael Spencer has a thought-provoking post (well, part rant and part post) about "suburban Christianity" and our tendency to twist Jesus' teachings around until they fit more comfortably into the American Dream. I'm sure you've heard critiques like this before (or thought them yourself), but Spencer has a way of wording it that feels almost like a punch in the gut:
I’m basically talking about the fact that if a person follows Jesus at all there is going to be some sacrifice involved. Economic sacrifice. Sacrifice of security. Sacrifice of certainty. If someone wants Jesus without the call to discipleship that means they either a) give up making a lot of money or b) give away your money? Fine, but that’s another Jesus.
This is the sort of statement that I agree with in principle—that following Jesus with all your heart will require personal sacrifices that really, truly hurt. But there's another version of Christianity out there, one that tells us that Jesus wants us to be happy, healthy, and financially secure... and while I don't think that's Biblical Christianity, it sure sounds a heck of a lot better to me when I'm faced with uncertainty and challenges in my life.
Recently my family has been facing some challenges from different directions. Nothing extreme, and nothing that you haven't probably experienced yourself. But I've been doing a lot of praying lately. And I'm realizing that most of my prayers are aimed convincing God to not force me to make sacrifices in my life. I want to emerge from this (and any) challenge still connected to the American Dream: I want financial stability, good health, happy relationships.
Is that what I should be praying for?
Is that what you pray for when life/providence/God throws you a curveball?
What if sacrificing financial stability, good health, and happy relationships is the whole point, and our prayers for happy resolutions to all our problems are just us furiously clinging to a false "suburban Christianity"?
What do you think? Have you ever prayed for an easy solution to your problems, but secretly wondered if you were praying for the wrong thing? Have you felt called to abandon parts of the "American Dream" lifestyle for the sake of Christ? If not... do you think that's a problem?