It sucks finding out you’ve been deceived, but the moment the lie is exposed is important. Why? It is the moment the truth is brought to light. And the truth is what we are seeking. I believe that. No one inherently wants to live under a cloud of lies. No one wants to operate under a constant barrage of deceptions and false declarations. We want the truth.
But as the famous line from a A Few Good Men goes, “You can’t handle the truth.” Truth hurts. Truth often forces our hand. Asks us to change some things. But we are meant to know the truth. Especially if you are a follower of Jesus. It might not be easy. It might not be what we want. But it is absolutely what we need.
So, I guess it is time to fill you in…America is feeding us some lies. And many of us have accepted them. For years. For generations. The church has even been shaped by these lies. And I want to expose them.
So, here are 7 lies American culture feeds us every day.
1.) You can be anything you want to be.
I remember growing up watching Michael Jordan. Everyone wanted to “be like Mike.” And why not? Who doesn’t want to dunk from the free throw line? Gatorade created a genius tagline. But they also created an enormous lie.
And Americans believe this lie because it speaks to the core of American ideals. America does afford people opportunities other countries do not. I am thankful for this. But it is this value that creates the lie many believe everyday. “Word hard. Exert more effort. Don’t give up.” If you do these things, you can be anything you want to be.
No, you can’t. There are many things I could work hard to achieve and never actually achieve.
So, what is the truth? The truth is every person has a unique set of talents and abilities.
Joy and life are found in the pursuit of becoming the man or woman God has created you to be.Click to tweet
You can’t be anything you want to be. But this is a good thing. It frees you up to be the man or woman God has called you to be.
2.) My actions have no bearing on anybody else.
No man is an island. Sin has consequences that reach beyond the individual into the community of people around you. Even into creation. Travel back to the beginning. The sin committed in the Garden not only severed the harmonious relationship between God and man…it set into motion the degradation of creation. Death is not God’s plan. Even for plants and animals. See Romans 8.
And to this day, creation longs to be restored. Creation! Sin has consequences far beyond the individual.
To the guy or girl who believes lusting or a pornography addiction has no bearing on any other person, you have believed a lie. True, you might not be in a relationship now. But eventually you might. And your actions in the present will carry into that future relationship. To the guy or girl who thinks jealousy and bitterness are not hurting anyone else, you have been deceived. These will break down your relationships.
Never forget this. What you do in private will eventually be revealed in public.
Your actions are affecting others. Maybe not in the moment. Maybe not tomorrow. But eventually it will happen.
3.) More money equals more happiness.
Some of you may remember a song called, “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.” Yes, it is a rap song. Don’t judge me. In this song, a few guys unknowingly spoke prophetically about the nature of money. Or maybe they knowingly did so. Regardless of the motive, their assertion is correct. More money often equals more problems. Or maybe more specifically…the pursuit of money equals more problems.
Here is the deal. Even those who blaspheme the name of Jesus will admit the pursuit of money is a tireless one. And an unattainable one.
Yet, in this country men and women are pursuing the unattainable. Christian men and women really aren’t much different. The Christian community has bought the lie that if you just reach a certain income level, you will be content. If you can acquire a certain number of trinkets, your life will have meaning.
But Scripture tells us this is a lie. Paul pleads with Timothy to preach a message of godliness with contentment financially (I Tim. 6:6). Solomon says the person who loves money will never be satisfied with it (Ecc. 5:10). Jesus says life is not found in an abundance of possessions (Luke 12:15).
Yeah, I believe “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems” was more prophetic than we care to admit. Maybe Jesus was on to something when he told his apostles to pray, “Give us today our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11).
4.) If everybody is doing it, it must be ok.
Truth by majority vote. Stephen Colbert refers to this as “Wikiality.” It is a growing trend in our culture today. It is also a scary one. All it takes is a majority vote to determine truth. Fifty-one percent.
And this idea appears logical. I mean, if the majority is doing it, it must be ok.
But you take a quick glimpse into American history and you see “wikialities” America has missed on. Take the period of slavery in our country. The majority somehow concluded that one person taking another person as a slave is an acceptable practice. Today, it sounds utterly ridiculous. But majority vote once determined it was acceptable.
One truth about truth (excuse my redundancy) is it should never change. It must be consistent. And this is the very opposite of who we are as humans.
There must be a truth higher than humanity that serves as a filter. Otherwise, we are all in enormous trouble. “Wikiality” is a lie. Be careful before you conclude something is alright because the majority says so.
5.) There is only one road I can take.
God has a plan for your life. But this idea that there is only one road in life is false. It is nowhere in Scripture. It is everywhere in culture.
I have witnessed this too many times. A college graduate is torn between two choices. They have come to a “fork in the road.” So, how do most people respond? Ask God for clarity. And inherent in this response is the notion that God has one road for you. Whether you choose the right one is directly dependent on your ability to seek Him.
If this is true, I am terrible at seeking the Lord. There have been many times in my life when I was presented with multiple options. And all of them appeared viable. So, I prayed to God for clarity. Cue the Jeopardy music. I waited. And waited. And waited. No sign. No clarity. Well, what now? Was I not praying hard enough? Did I choose the wrong road?
What if God doesn’t care which path we take? What if God’s design for your life is for you to seek Him with all of your heart. And when you get to a fork in the road…just choose a road.
Stop wasting months. Stop waiting on “clarity.” Stop agonizing over whether or not you chose the “right” road. Just choose a road. If you are seeking the Lord, there is no wrong road.
God’s plan for our lives is not always linear. This is a western mindset. Not a Biblical one. God’s direction can include branches and offsets. It can move linearly or non-linearly. The path to the final destination can be achieved more than one way.
So, when you get to a fork in the road of life…take it.
6.) Individualism is a noble pursuit.
If there is one defining quality of the West, it is individualism.Richard KochThis statement from Richard Koch is absolutely true. Sad, but true. Individualism makes the claim you and I should not be dependent on any other person. You take care of you. At least this is individualism in the West.
The church is not much different. It is almost frowned upon to be dependent upon something or someone other than yourself. “Who cares if Jesus said stuff about losing your life? Who cares about all of that radical sacrifice stuff? God gave you a brain, he expects you to use it.”
Translation: God thinks logically. He would never expect you to make a decision that flies in the face of self-reliance. Don’t sell your house. Don’t give your savings to feed the hungry. Don’t move into the inner city. It is dangerous there.
You be dependent upon you. No one else. What an awful deception our culture has pitched us.
Tragically, the state of Christianity in America is one where faith in God is actually just faith in self with some Godly values attached. Dependence on self and faith in God are mutually exclusive. Choose a side. But don’t choose both. To choose both is to choose neither.
7.) If you are not busy, you are lazy.
American culture is filled with exhausted men and women. Depression is at an astronomically high rate. So is anxiety. Why? At least in part because we have a culture that says if every hour is not filled with something, you are lazy or unproductive. Even most vacations we plan are considered a waste if we are not constantly doing something. Seriously?!
This rubs hard against the ways and rhythms of Jesus. To Jesus, Sabbath and retreating were as integral to his mission as engaging, healing, and teaching.
“Jesus, are you really taking another Sabbath?!…for an entire day? You do this every week. Don’t you know we have office hours? Don’t you know we have things at the office that need to be done?”
We are a culture built on busyness. Eventually it will lead this country to implode on itself.
If we learn anything from Jesus, we learn this…productivity is not achieved without a constant rhythm of engage and retreat. Stop buying the lie. This culture doesn’t need busier people. This culture needs more productive people. It needs more people who follow the way of Jesus.
Retreating is not an insignificant activity. It might just be the most productive part of our week.
Leave a comment below and let me know which cultural lies I have left off. Or you can comment on a lie I have already provided. I would love to have your insight. A community is always more valuable than an individual.
I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!