"Don't go putting all your eggs in one basket," the saying goes.
We 21st century American Christians have a way of "putting all our eggs in one basket." We set our sights on our own, individualized CHRISTIANIZED version of "the American Dream."
In other words, we have fixed in our minds an ideal life of "prosperity and success" in the earthly here and now; we set our sights on that image or dream, and we focus the greater share of our time and efforts on attaining it.
What we define as "prosperity and success," how we go about achieving it, and to whom we ultimately give the credit all goes into what differentiates a "Christianized" from a "non-Christian" version of said dream.
Of course, NON-Christian versions of "the American dream" may often include an obscene quantity of material riches (in terms of what is defined as TRUE "prosperity and success"), acquired in questionable or downright dishonest or immoral ways, without seeking God's blessing or help in the matter.
The "Christianized" version, on the other hand, would surely be considerably more modest in what is defined as "prosperity and success" (would not be overly greedy or overtly materialistic) and would be achieved by honest, respectable means and through prayer, giving God due credit for its accomplishment.
Our own, individual, Christianized version might include a great deal more detail as to what, exactly, a "prosperous and successful" life looks like.
Yours may include, for instance, a long life, the unhindered enjoyment of good health and full, normal function (maybe even striking good looks and optimal physical fitness!). Since we're Christians, we believe in striving for excellence in all we do (Ecclesiastes 9:10; Romans 12:11; Colossians 3:23) and because we're AMERICAN Christians, we believe, too, in a healthy level of competitiveness and accomplishment. So, your version may include high achievement in your career, or schooling, or sports and hobbies; a proper, God-honoring employment of the natural gifts, talents and abilities with which the Good Lord has endowed us.
It may include a certain style and kind of home in a certain part of the country. It will very likely include a good, respectable church that you will attend often, and some degree of church involvement and/or ministry.
And it may include the "picture-perfect" family. You choose, of course, the optimal number of kids; and they will be well-rounded, well-dressed, well-behaved children, who are given all the advantages you can reasonably afford them, and who will enjoy good health and full, normal function and eventually bring praise to God (and maybe just a little to their parents) for their upbringing and the wholesome, honest, God-honoring (not to mention, "prosperous and successful") lives they will lead.
The Christianized version of the American dream is a VERY popular pursuit that enjoys very wide acceptance and respect by most believers and unbelievers, alike, and is even usually applauded in the modern evangelical church.
And I have no intention of bashing it here.
But, "What if . . .?"
The Apostle Paul occasionally liked to quote the poets and philosophers of his age (Acts 17:28; Titus 1:12). A poet who was an old favorite of mine once wrote, "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans" (John Lennon, "Beautiful Boy.")
What happens, typically, when tragedy or misfortune strikes, and some key facet of one's individualized version is irretrievably "nuked into oblivion?" You lose your job, and maybe your home in the bargain. You find out you have a debilitating or even terminal disease. You lose a limb, or a faculty, like your hearing, or your voice, or an eye. You lose a child (may it never be!).
How will we respond when our own cherished notion of what a "prosperous and successful" life looks like vanishes forever?
With depression? Certainly, we're bound to experience some heavy, even profound sorrow. No shame in that.
How about bitterness? Doubting God? Blaming God? Anger at God? Giving up on God? Turning away FROM God? Giving up on LIVING?
I believe some of these reactions may have to do with "putting all our eggs in one basket." And I would really encourage you to think, and even pray, about this until the next post.
I'd like to encourage you to think, and even pray, about whether YOU may be "putting all YOUR eggs in one basket," and whether that basket is really "the RIGHT one."
And I'd like to encourage you to think, and even pray, about whether or not the Bible gets final say IN YOUR LIFE as to what that "right basket" ought to be?
And, if it's NOT the Bible that has final say, then what IS making that determination for you?
More later, Lord willing.