In a New York Times column by David Brooks, America is described as a Commercial Republic. Unfortunately, I have to agree. The Greeks are known for the arts and philosophy, the Romans are remembered for their government, army, and architecture, Great Britain epitomized imperialism, and America will be famous for their stuff.
“But if there is one thing we can be sure of, this pause will not last. The cultural DNA of the past 400 years will not be erased. The pendulum will swing hard. The gospel of success will recapture the imagination.” Brooks in his article is trying to inspire us. He shows many examples of the American commercial spirit thriving in the midst of economic turmoil and even though the entrepreneurial spirit isn’t all over the news, our zeitgeist is the pursuit of success, and it will return.
Like I said, unfortunately, I agree with him. Our country, and often times me included, is obsessed with wealth and stuff. The amount of stuff we buy, the amount of hours we work, the great lengths we go for a larger salary, a better home, a newer car, is all really really absurd. But it is unfortunately what makes America, America.
When I read this article, I couldn’t help but remember Jesus’s conversation with the rich young ruler. I believe that in some ways the cultural pulse of America approaches Jesus the same way he did. We walk up to Jesus and say, “Look, we have tried to do all the right things. We have Christian schools, freedom that allows us to worship whenever and wherever we want. We have moral laws, we even have In God We Trust written on government buildings and money. What do we need to do get into your kingdom?” Jesus looks back at us, “It’s good that you do all that stuff, but if you want to enter my kingdom, you need to get rid of all your stuff, give it to the rest of the world that needs it, and then come follow me.”
And then we walk away.
Sometimes I worry that America is and always will be that camel trying to walk through the eye of a needle. The very thing that drives America is the very thing that makes it so hard for us to truly follow Christ.
I’m certainly guilty of holding onto things when God is clearly telling me to give them away.
Anyway…it was an interesting article.