Am I American or Christian?

by PammyMcB

It was interesting to read The ABCs of American Culture. I had never before realized how American notions are ingrained in our culture. Three of The Ten Commandments of American Culture stood out to me more than others: You Can’t Argue With Success, Live and Let Live, and God Helps Those Who Help Themselves. In order to think more as a Christian I need to work on these areas.

First, I am American in my thinking when it comes to success. I always strive to be the best at everything I do. I want to be the best mother, wife, friend, and daughter. I fail in some areas of my life in order to be a success in others. I understand it is not possible to be successful at everything. That is why I continue to remain stressed. I am not satisfied with something, so I push for better. I am at odds with my Christianity; because I spend so much time trying to be successful in my physical life, I ignore my spiritual life too often. Like the ant, I reap my rewards for my diligent attention to being the best I can be at everything I work toward; but like the sluggard, my spiritual life yields little reward. This American notion of success makes it difficult for me to be serious about my discipleship. I stay so consumed with being a success; I have very little time for discipleship.

The American commandment Live and Let Live is also difficult for my discipleship. By American law, I am to be accepting to all types of people, even if I feel their views and lifestyles are sinful and hurtful to the world. I recognize that I live in a political correct society. However, as a Christian, I know certain lifestyles are sinful and full of shameful desires. I know we are called to reach out to those who sin, but many of them are not willing to accept the hand that grants them grace. When I talk to others about their lifestyles, I am often met with a great deal of resistance. I tell them they know my feelings and should be respectful enough to refrain from their behavior in the presence of my children and myself. When they wrong me, I forgive. It would be easy to throw my arms up and walk away. I have often thought of doing so. However, I begin to think of the story of Hosea and Gomer. Afterwards, I forgive and persist in my efforts to teach them the love of God. My choice to forgive is very difficult for many to understand, especially since I have a problem with the sinfulness of those who wrong me. My persistence has me labeled as a fool, but I continue in my efforts.

It was through the efforts of Christians that I have changed my view on the commandment God Only Helps Those Who Helps Themselves. I have heard this phrase uttered time and time again. At one point in my life, I did believe this. Now, I know it is not true. My family and I have been down and out in the past. It was amazing to witness how God helped us through such a difficult time in our lives. Though we were financially destitute, we were spiritually blessed and gained Christian faith. I know that Jesus reached out to many who could not help themselves. In his blessings and woes Jesus said, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20). I know it was through the grace of God and efforts of my Christian brethren that my family and I were able to get back on our feet. I know, now, that God helps those who need Him regardless of whether they can or cannot help themselves. I feel it is important for Christians to remember that many people are incapable of helping themselves, not only financially, but also physically or mentally. God is there for them. Though I feel that my Christian mentality has overridden my American mentality in this area, I falter here occasionally. I may think, “Well if you would do something….” I usually catch myself, therefore feel it is a work in progress.

As long as I strive to progressively work on these areas of my life, it will be easier for me to be successful in my efforts as a disciple. The one thing that I try to remember to help me persevere in my efforts is our God is not a God of punishment, but is a God of love and compassion. Hopefully, through my efforts and understanding I can become less American and more Christian.