Thursday, October 4, 2012

American Values & The Bible



 One of my assignments was to write an essay about American Values and how they relate to the bible's instruction...  Following is my essay...

While the United States may have been founded on Christian Principles and Values, it is hard to find Christian values in the things that seem to be important to Americans today.  America today is very individualistic.  There is little about today’s society that is not a reflection of a mentality of “Every man for himself” and “May the best man win”.

We have also become a very secluded society, a society where we can literally wake up in the morning, get in our car (parked in our garage of course), go to work, come home at the end of the day, pull into our garage and never once see our neighbors.  We don’t even need to get out of our cars to open the garage door anymore, a little button and an electric motor keep us from ever having to interact with those we live close to, if we so choose.

A drive through most neighborhoods with homes built in the past 30 years will confirm this.  Almost every home will have a garage (many of them a two car garage revealing another value) that prominently faces the street.  The homes will be large, but there will likely be a very small front porch if there is one at all.  We don’t sit out on our porches and interact with our neighbors there as we did in days past.  But those same homes will have large patios or decks in the back of the home, behind a fence, secluded from the neighbors, for the enjoyment of the family that lives there.

Drive through a neighborhood with homes built 30-60 years ago, and the homes will be smaller, the garage will most likely be detached and in the back of the house, if there is a garage.  The homes will have large front porches and wide welcoming steps, and tiny back yards.  Homes used to be built toward the back of a lot leaving the majority of the lot facing the street, welcoming visitors.  These neighborhoods reveal what was important to the inhabitants of those neighborhoods when they were built.

We do, generally, interact with others at work, but many people wear masks at work that hide who they really are.  We keep our work lives and our personal lives separate.  We get uncomfortable talking about personal things in the workplace.  We have become so worried about appearances that many of us don’t even know who we are, let alone who anyone else is.  We are immediately labeled by anyone who sees us by what we are wearing, how our hair is cut, what car we drive, our accent, or any number of other superficial things.

Recently, we have become so preoccupied with the value of diversity that we hold our beliefs in reserve so as to “not offend” anyone whose beliefs are different than ours.  We have fooled ourselves into believing that this is a means of accepting those who are different, by suppressing those things about us that are different.  However, in doing so we have destroyed that which made us diverse to begin with, our differences.  If diversity were a box of crayons, we who value diversity should be excited about having the big box of crayons, the one with 64 colors and a sharpener!  But instead, we have become so concerned about offending anyone with differing beliefs that we have learned to hide those things which make us diverse so as to be able to accept one another, and rather than being a box full of color, we have become a box full of gray.

How do we stack up to Scripture?  I wrestle with that question all the time from a personal perspective, how do I stack up to scripture?  It would be so much easier if the Bible instructed us to build communes and segregate ourselves from society.  If we were to live only with those who thought like we did, and acted like we did.  But scripture is pretty clear, we are to be a light in the darkness, we are to be in the world but not of it, we are called to be the salt of the earth.  Well it’s hard to be those things if we seclude ourselves in a small community.

That said, the bible also talks about communal living, of everyone giving all they have to the community and taking what they need from the communal “pot” as needs arise.  But is that instruction that is intended to be a truth than spans the ages?  Is this a universal truth of the bible like God’s love for us?  Or of his command that we “Go and preach the gospel”?  Or of his Greatest command, that we are to “Love our neighbor”?  It is these very types of questions that makes discerning the truth of the Bible so very important.

For those of you who have supported me financially, THANK YOU!  If you've been meaning to, now would a great time to do so.  I have a bill coming due in four weeks for my next class.  I also have four textbooks to purchase in the next three weeks!  If you would like to purchase a textbook for me, you can go to Amazon and see my wish list HERE.  There is one book (Living Your Strengths: Discover Your God-Given Talents and Inspire Your Community) for which I NEED a new copy.  It is noted on the right side of the wish list.  There is one that is a Kindle Book (Eugene Peterson's, The Pastor), and two others.  If there are used copies available, that is fine.

Again, Thank You all so much, your support is the only way I am able to follow God's Call.

Until His Work in Me is Complete,
Paul

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