The idolatry of the “Good Life”
Internet Monk warns us of the influence of American culture in our preaching:
The idolatry of "The Good Life" is, instead, the reshaping of the Christian movement into a particularly American religion where God becomes the means to provide us with the comforts, material blessings, experiences and "necessities" of a prosperous American lifestyle as defined by American culture.
Coming to terms with this idolatry necessitates that the Christian confess the presence and power of American culture as it defines the good life. This is a daunting task, for it has the potential to shake the typical American to his/her foundations. This "Good Life" worldview holds forth standards for what we "should" have that include specifics in all these areas and more:
Health, finance, housing, technology, clothing, jobs, transportation, personal appearance, fashion, leisure, freedom from pain, education, personal comfort, food, use of the environment, activities/sports, achievement, medical care, freedom, sex, relationships, emotional states, access to information, communities, possessions, security and a hundred other personal preferences….
Evangelicals in America are creating a religion that tells them how to be happy, how to be financially secure, how to be successful, fulfilled and healthy. Evangelical Christianity in America has pushed missional values to the fringes and brought "the Good Life" so close to the center that sermons themselves are calmly titled "How to Discover the Champion In You." To which everyone applauds.
The most popular pastors in America preside over this idolatrous affair with the glib assumption that the purpose of the church is to make us beautiful, prosperous and fully secure in American culture, but, of course, thankful to God for making sure we have all these blessings….
At the end of the day, do evangelicals want to be disciples of Jesus? Do they want to be a missional force in this culture? Are their priorities evangelizing and congregationalizing in other cultures? Are they a movement communicating the gospel across barriers? Or are they pursuing "the Good Life" in America with the blessing of God? Do they want God to pay off their credit card bills, make their children beautiful and popular, and insure their security in their suburban neighborhoods? Is our passion for the mission of the church or the comfort and profitability of our own enterprises? Do we see the world through the values of Jesus and his Kingdom, or do we see the world- and ourselves- through the values of advertising, prosperity and fashion?