In my opinion, this is one of the best quotes from David Platt's book Radical. I think he makes a very interesting and valid point.
"...we are afraid of what it might mean for our lives. So we rationalize these passages away. 'Jesus wouldn't really tell us not to bury our father or say good-bye to our family. Jesus didn't literally mean to sell all we have and give it to the poor. What Jesus really meant was...'
"And this is where we need to pause. Because we are starting to redefine Christianity. We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with.
"A nice, middle-class, American Jesus. A Jesus who doesn't mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have. A Jesus who would not expect us to forsake our closest relationships so that He receives all our affection. A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts, because, after all, He loves us just the way we are. A Jesus who wants us to be balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that matter, wants us to avoid danger altogether. A Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American dream.
"But do you and I realize what we are doing at this point? We are molding Jesus into our image. He is beginning to look a lot like us, because, after all, that is whom we are the most comfortable with. And the danger now is that when we gather in our church buildings to sing and lift up our hands in worship, we may not actually be worshiping the Jesus of the Bible. Instead we may be worshiping ourselves."
-David Platt, Radical
Is this a demand for every person to go on the mission field or sell everything you have? No, absolutely not. The reason I posted this is as a reminder that we need to look at the Bible and listen to Jesus objectively, as truth, whether or not it agrees with our cultural norms.
Is it necessarily cool to give money to a beggar? No, in fact, in some cities in Florida, it's illegal! But that should not be the deciding factor in our listening to Jesus' voice. Is it necessarily cool to listen to a friend who's burdened and having trouble at home? No, and it may not be fun. But Jesus didn't guarantee a fun and games life. In fact, He guaranteed the exact opposite.
The American dream, our personal preferences and comfort zones, and accepted cultural norms should not define our Christianity. That's a position for Jesus Christ alone.
So, this week, read your Bible objectively. Don't try to interpret it comfortably, or through the lens of acceptance among others. Instead, listen for Jesus' voice. If it tells you to go on the mission field and empty your bank account, great! If he tells you to give $10 bucks to a homeless guy or let a friend talk your ear off, awesome!