The Mission of Jesus had nothing to do with the American Dream

The temptation in the wilderness of Jesus as recorded…in greater detail…in Matthew’s gospel in verses 4:8-10 and in Luke’s gospel in verses 4:5-8…was a seemingly misdirected, apples-to-oranges, nonsensical approach by Satan that missed the mark…regarding Jesus…in a key, fundamental way.

The power and the glory of the kingdoms of the world…was not anywhere in-the-ballpark of what would be tempting to the Son of God Jesus.

This appears on the surface to be a complete misunderstanding of the mission of Jesus Christ…an appeal to Jesus of the American Dream…on steroids.

It demonstrates a total misconception or a total under-estimation of the character of God…either by a very clever initial probing of the character of Jesus the Son of God in the opening sparring contest between darkness and light…or instead is a genuine ignorance about the un-susceptibility of Jesus Christ to the allures of the glory and power of the kingdoms of this world.

Either way…the mission and ministry of Jesus was not to validate the autonomous individualism that can be a component of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…by leisurely sailing the Greek Isles in the Mediterranean Sea in a carefree manner…for His own enjoyment.

Jesus Christ is the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for the sins of mankind.

His unique life-script mission transcends above any worldly conventional goals, dreams, or aspirations…however commendable when these goals are part of our God-composed, journeys of faith that crossover into some of the tenets of the American Dream.

What reaches a level of inconceivable depth…light-years beyond what could be the product of human inventive, literary fiction…is that Jesus is the most wealthy and the most successful person in all of human history…being the divine Son of God in a human body…the Creator and mastermind of everything in the universe including ourselves…who owns literally everything…yet is in the humble outward appearance of a lowly carpenter from the outlying and insignificant small town of Nazareth in first-century Israel (Jn. 1:46).

If the sin-free, unblemished Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice…Jesus Christ…foreglimpsed in the ram caught in the bushes on Mount Moriah that became the substitute for Isaac (Gen. 22:13)…and depicted in the ancient prophecies of Isaiah 9:6 and Isaiah 53…if Jesus can perfectly live a divinely elevated life-script…being the Son of God while enjoying none of the outward advantages of the American Dream (Mt. 8:20)…this then opens up to every believer who will accept God’s invitation to follow Him by faith into a biblical-quality adventure of faith…to experience life to the fullest according to God’s perspective…within a divinely composed journey of faith for each of us…regardless of social, cultural, or economic status.

A God-composed journey of faith life-script is in an entirely different category…going in a different direction…entering in at the narrow gate of the cross as described in Matthew 7:13-14 as spoken by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount…in a fundamentally different way of life…from pursuing the American Dream through our own efforts.

This is one of the most important…possibly the most important message coming from the Bible to modern, sophisticated mankind today…that Jesus Christ is not only our Savior and King…but also that He is the way, the truth, and the life…because He is the only person in all of existence who can craft journey of faith life-scripts for us that transcend above worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

Jesus can do this not only because He is our Creator God…who knows each of us intimately…but also because He lived just such an unconventional life-script Himself.

The narrative stories of faith in the Bible are therefore of enormous and incalculable worth.

For this reason they have been under attack for the last four to five hundred years…for their supernatural accounts of the interactions between people and God…and for their accounts of supernatural events that were and still are today incorrectly criticized for being outside of the supposed closed-system of naturalistic materialism…a philosophical paradigm that no longer holds water in this new, Information Age time-period.

The narrative stories of faith in the Bible go way beyond being thrilling bedtime stories for children, covering issues that are deadly serious in their sophisticated applications to life.

The fundamental difference between going our own way in pursuit of the American Dream…and instead partnering with the living God within a journey of faith that may result in an outcome that exceeds the goals, dreams, and aspirations of the American Dream (Gen. 41:37-44; Ex. 12:31-36; Josh. 11:23; 2 Sam. 2:1-4; 2 Tim. 4:6-8)…is a discontinuous gap of two choices for human life…that far outpaces  the inventive imagination of human literary fiction writing.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity

A God-Composed Journey of Faith Transcends above the American Dream 2

In the Bible…the people who become caught-up in a God-composed adventure of faith life-script mission…discover along the way that their personal relationship with the living God becomes more important and more valuable than anything else in life…even the attractiveness of the American Dream of material wealth, the culturally acceptable validation of ourselves, and achieving through our own efforts a sense of personal security.

The acceptance and validation coming from God…in valuing us enough to call us by His Spirit into a unique and individual life-plan…of having faith in us to the point of calling us individually into a specific mission that only we can perform…with His assistance and partnership…is entirely different from the self-satisfaction of achieving the goals, dreams, and aspirations of the American Dream according to the Frank Sinatra song “I did it my way”…of self-autonomous individualism…that is typically found within worldly conventional normalcy and thinking (Phil. 3:4-10).

The parable of the nobleman away on business…and the instruction of Luke 19:13 to “occupy till I come”…is the commendable, baseline guide for all Christians to be about our Father’s business in whatever capacity we may be assigned in the caretaking of the estate…in this parable…trimming the walkway shrubs, sweeping the exterior walkways, picking the fruits and vegetables from the orchard, caring for the livestock, preparing the meals for the staff, and the general interior and exterior cleaning and up-keep maintenance of the estate buildings and grounds.

Realizing the American Dream can be achieved entirely through self-effort…through the application and exploitation of our natural, innate abilities…through autonomous individualism.

Experiencing a biblical-quality journey of faith…by intentional design…requires the direct participation of the living God…within a personal relationship.

These two realities for life are not the same…although they can and do overlap in some areas.

What this means…in a practical applied sense…for Christians today is that God can guide and channel life events and circumstances …and insert unique and individualized life-scripts into the lives of plumbing contractors, stay-at-home moms, auto mechanics, high school teachers, lawyers, accountants, engineers, professional athletes, journalists, small town mayors, church pastors, Christian foreign missionaries, Bible college professors, and Christian book writers…after the pattern of the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible.

For some people…their individual gifts and talents are either outwardly apparent…or internally revealed to them.  Some people know early in childhood that they want to become a medical nurse, or that they possess the athletic ability to play professional sports, or that they have the gift of exceptional intelligence to be able to earn a PhD in mathematics.

For these people…the addition and inclusion of an actively interested and participating God into the mix…enhances the life experience of pursuing their goals with their very best effort…giving it their all…because these unique gifts and talents derive from their Creator God in the first place.

A personal relationship with God can actualize…can come to life…can translate into any conceivable career path, geographical location, personal circumstances, political environment, and economic situation.

Jesus famously said that He came to earth…that we might have more abundant life (Jn. 10:10).

This more abundant life is based upon the strength of the foundation of a fulfilling relational walk-of-faith with Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit…and not on the satisfaction of the self-works of achieving the American Dream on our own…apart from God…and outside of a brilliantly unique, divine calling for our lives (Mk. 8:36).

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

A God-Composed Journey of Faith Transcends above the American Dream 1

“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”                                                                                               (2 Tim. 2:4)       

The American Dream…in modern terms might be defined to include things like going to the finest college, earning an advanced degree, getting a high-paying job we enjoy working at, having a happy marriage, successfully raising a family, buying a large mansion in a great location, driving a Bentley or Aston Martin convertible automobile, having good friends, enjoying hobbies, playing sports, having good health and a long life, sending our children to Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Oxford, or other prestigious colleges, having a healthy stock portfolio, taking European vacations, enjoying our grandchildren, and having a secure retirement.

What could outwardly appear to be more popularly sensible…more conventionally appealing as goals, dreams, and aspirations for life…than the list of things described above?

Yet the narrative stories of faith in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are entirely different…in terms of goals, dreams, and aspirations…from any imaginable ancient version of the American Dream translated back in time.

This is one of the unique facts about the Bible that argues for its divine origin…because this transcendence above popular conventional thinking…would never originate from popular conventional thinking.

This observation…counter-intuitively…is one of the most positive features of the biblical gospel message of God’s very real and very rational offer to us of an alternative choice…into an elevated, purposeful life on a higher moral, ethical, and spiritual plane…to become a willing enlistee of God into a divinely-composed journey of faith life-script…full of risk and adventure…having the most profound meaning, purpose, and fulfillment imaginable for human beings.

Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and life (Jn. 14:6)…not only because He is the Savior, Redeemer, and Light of the world…but also and of equal importance…Jesus Christ is the only person in all of existence who can compose divinely-crafted  journey of faith life-scripts for every believer in the Old Testament…in the New Testament…and for Christians today…that are an attractive, alternative option that transcends above popular conventionality…yet may encompass some of the goals of the otherwise commendable American Dream list described above.

One of the key biblical concepts that is still missing today in contemporary orthodox Christianity…that has not yet been fully recovered following the Protestant Reformation…is that the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible…have little or nothing at all to do with the American Dream.

The calling of Abraham the “father of faith” as long ago in history as 2,200 B.C., recorded as beginning in the 12th chapter of Genesis…the first book in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament…as well as the callings of Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David…all the way through the Bible to the calling and ministry of the Apostle Paul…are not anything like the America Dream as outlined above.

As Abraham walks from the city of Haran to the Promised Land of Canaan…with each step he takes God is displacing whatever conventionally normal life Abraham might have lived in Haran…with a completely different, elevated life based not upon the American Dream…but upon an entirely unique walk of grace-through-faith…that opens up the context in which to get to know the real living God on a personal basis.

Instead of becoming the city mayor of Haran, or becoming its international trade ambassador, or serving on the school board, or coaching an ancient version of a youth soccer team…and thereby exiting quietly from history as an unexceptional person living an unexceptional life…Abraham’s calling and life-mission as brilliantly composed by God…was to become the singular “father of faith” example of an elevated life…that has had a huge and beneficially incalculable impact upon human history for thousands of years…to our present day.

This is the common through-line theme of every biblical story of faith…repeated in variations of the storyline for the benefit of multiple generations…and for our benefit…as the new normal for all relationships between people and the living God…starting with Abraham’s walk of faith.

The narrative stories of faith…as recorded in the Bible…are so different from worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…that they invent an entirely new frame-of-reference for human life.

This frame-of-reference has as its goal the establishment of a personal relationship…between people and God…set-up through the creative mind of God…and on His terms…that must be the new reality if our life-stories are to be elevated up and out of worldly conventional, popular normalcy and thinking (Jn. 8:36).

The biblical narrative stories of faith are not for or against the tenets and aspirations of ancient and contemporary versions of the American Dream. 

The biblical narrative stories of faith simply transcend above these universally popular goals, dreams, and aspirations in a way that makes them curiously inapplicable, unimportant, and no longer the chief desire of our hearts and minds.

The life events and circumstances…the goals…and the end-point outcomes in the storylines of the biblical people of faith…have nothing to do with making a success of ourselves in terms of worldly conventional standards…according to the American Dream as translated backwards into every century of time and every cultural setting from the ancient books of Genesis through Acts…in the Bible.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity

God Has Our Back 1

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

“But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”  (1 Cor. 2:10)

            God has our back in a crisis.  The only way we would know this for sure is by actual experience…by being in the middle of a shooting war.  

            This has to be true…because it cannot be fiction.  It does not hold up as fiction.  Once it rises to the level of becoming recorded in writing…put down on paper…it enters the arena of being universally testable and falsifiable over time. 

            The interaction between the living God and David….memorialized forever in David’s 23rd Psalm…is true because it cannot be otherwise…it cannot be fictional writing.  Once David writes about walking through the valley of the shadow of death with God at his side…then fiction-writing as the source of its inspiration and origin becomes nonsensical. 

            The uniquely biblical concept of the living God participating in our lives to this extent of personal interaction…at the very center of our life-scripts…is too far outside of the default, conventional worldview thinking of sitting atop the thrones of our lives in self-sovereignty…to make the huge leap across to the other side of the spectrum in placing our lives on-the-line in sacrificially following by faith the living God.

            According to worldly conventional normalcy and thinking, David should be telling us how great and powerful he is…not about successful faith in God…because self-adulation surrounding his achievements would be the normally expected outer limits…the extent of his possible experience.

            What would be the point…the motivation…the inspiration…for David making this Psalm 23 up…if the actual boundaries of human experience stop at the edge of self-sovereignty, self-reliance, and autonomous individualism? 

            Following God into an adventure of faith would not hold water for any period of time within actual lived experience…unless God is real…and that we can experience His active participation in our lives.

            Religious “faith” that is still rooted in self-reliance and self-rulership is not biblical faith.  Biblical faith will connect us with the real God…who according to the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible…will displace our ways with a higher life-script that reflects His higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9).

            This is the root of what was so threatening to the religious leaders in Jerusalem in the first-century that led to crucifying Jesus Christ.

            The religious leaders in Jerusalem were exposed by Jesus as being blind hypocrites. 

            They said they were the authorized representatives of God (Jn. 8:33, 39, 41) when in fact they were the deadliest enemies of biblical faith. 

            They were firmly committed to the default worldview of self-sovereign self-rulership…of maintaining complete control over their lives…to the point of instigating the death of Jesus through Roman crucifixion…in order to remove the threat of having to surrender this self-guided, self-sovereign status quo (Jn. 11:47-48). 

            They knew roughly about biblical faith…had been exposed to it as they studied the Hebrew Bible…but did not want any part of it themselves (Lk. 11:39-54).    

            This is a component of the “mystery” of iniquity…the conflict between self-sovereignty and God-sovereignty in our lives that produced the radical outcomes of the cross, the resurrection, and our salvation.

            The risk-factor involved in the novelty of voluntarily and willfully walking through a genuine journey of faith following the living God…is on its own a powerful and persuasive evidence that supports the divine origin of the Bible…because as human invented literary fiction…the concept of God-sovereignty displacing our self-sovereignty cannot and would not exist…for any length of time in real practice. 

            Minutes, hours, or days of actual tested experience would quickly expose this concept…if fiction…as empty fantasy…and be discarded as functionally worthless.

            If God is in actuality “not home,” then His brilliantly imaginative solutions in the biblical narrative stories of faith…that soar above human creativity and invention…would not only be inaccessible as real experience…to be recorded as life-history on paper…they would be beyond the creative imagination of human contemplation altogether. 

            David…or someone else inventing the 23rd Psalm…as fiction writing…has no motivational or conceptual legs…it does not take us anywhere within worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.