May 15, 2007 Matthew

A Great Merchant City

You stare at a some pieces of paper in your hand in bewilderment, but its not the first time. For weeks you have wandered in mind in imaginative contemplation over these pieces of paper. “Destination: Great City” it reads. You have heard so much about this place since your youth, and you’ve always heard your neighbors boasting about how they will someday go there or wishing they could. But you have the papers now, and the rest can only shake their heads in disbelief that you could have won such a highly prized ‘lottery’. It’s so difficult to obtain the necessary documents to enter that city, that most people who try never even get close. The requirements are so stringent that those who do make it are considered lucky or wealthy.
It is a city known for its business and innovation. The people constitute only 5 percent of the worlds population, yet its influence reaches to the farthest corners of the earth. So much of your own society and lifestyle had its origins in the Great City. It’s hard to imagine how your society would get on with out it, for there is quite a bit of established reliance on them. It’s seems that everything takes its example from the Great City–your own politicians mimic policies from theirs; their science and technology is incorporated into your own educational curriculum; their religious leaders tend to be the role models and authoritative figures from which your own religious leaders get their dogma. So much depends on them. Despite its population, the city has utterly overshadowed the rest of the world in military strength, political prowess, technology, science, and economics. Money flows in a blur; incalculable in amount. Indeed, how great it would be to go there and experience in the flesh the life, the sounds, the wisdom, the superiority, the beauty, the strength. Of all the cities in the world you could visit, this one makes for a most prized ornament on your desk. A boast for life. During the flight on the airplane which was itself a product of this civilization, you count the hours and anxieties. Your stomach turns with the kind of anticipation of a child going to Disneyland.

***

For a great majority of the people of the real world today, that ‘great city’ is known as America. Many a time have I sat on an airplane next to such a person on their first visit to America. The world has not seen such a ‘city’ since the days of Rome. No country is more talked about, written about, or watched than America. Much of the world can even be found to be more informed of its happenings than those who live in it. It is truly a ‘great’ city in every sense of the word. For from here came everything to the world: the car, the internet, the phone, the computer, the television, CDs, medicine, Coca-cola, the revolutionary light-bulb, and electricity. And what is even more astounding is that it all came in a just a little more than a hundred years. From the perspective of the outsider, America is a prodigy at the least.

In a sense, Christianity has also largely come from here–that is, in its present day form. America has sent out the most missionaries in all of history numbering the hundreds of thousands, not to mention the global broadcasting of Christian television and radio which directly influences or impacts nearly every country. As a result, Christianity with an American ‘taint’ can be seen just about anywhere.

Deep in the bush in Africa I have seen preachers in the dirtiest places sporting preacher-outfits similar to what is seen on Gospel television in a nice and tidy studio. I have seen mini-seminars and conferences held in metal shacks, and youth programs in slums that strive to be ‘relevant’. Many were more than a bit confused when they saw that churches in America were beginning to allow homosexuals into leadership, and some posed the question, “Are we to allow this too?”

It may be strange that the world could be having a love-hate relationship with America. It definitely looks that way. It’s rare to find a foreigner who wouldn’t want to visit it. It’s also rare to find a foreigner who loves it.

In the light of all this, there is much we need to think about, pray over, and learn. Whether you are a citizen from this “great city” or not. Our attitudes will affect how we respond to such significant things in the world and all attitudes must be brought and tested under the Word of God. There is great benefit to keeping oneself from entangling themselves with the affairs of this world. It behooves us therefore to take care with our attitudes with America as it seems to be one of the greatest entanglements in peoples hearts the world–perhaps–has ever known (maybe second to relationships?)…