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February 19, 2011

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The very first time I traveled outside of the United States, I became very aware of how spoiled Americans are (myself included). For the most part, even the poorest of us have a couple of televisions, several changes of clothing, and food in the refrigerator at our disposal. Though there is a recession, America remains a land of plenty. The unemployed may lose their home, but can expect financial assistance of some kind for food, clothing, and shelter. Not so in many countries. So it is not surprising that most believers of the prosperity gospel live in the United States and attend megachurches. We expect and demand as much comfort and pleasure as we can get our hands on. The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life tend to be priority one in the American mindset and it has gushed over into our theology. Herein lies a major reason for the complacent or satisfied and those who hunger for and cannot get enough of the Word of God.

The American churchgoer must be reminded that suffering is inevitable – even required – in the Christian walk and that we are to follow in the steps of Christ Jesus. “For you have been granted [the privilege] for Christ's sake not only to believe in (adhere to, rely on, and trust in) Him, but also to suffer in His behalf.” (Philippians 2:29, AMP) “This is the kind of life you've been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step.” (1 Peter 2:21, MSG)

I believe the difference between the hungry and the complacent is the hungry realize their desperate need for God. They have an ever-increasing desire to know Him, his Word and his ways. I believe the complacent do not fully realize their desperate need for Him. They are satisfied with a superficial relationship with God and lack the desire to go deeper in a relationship with Him through prayer and his Word.

I believe the gap is wide because we, as American churchgoers, have gotten too comfortable. We can freely worship God, in most cases, without dying for doing so. We usually don't have to give up any "luxuries" such as light, heat and air-conditioning, in our places of worship. There are also too many distractions, things to take us away from God, if we let them, and we start to lose our desire for God, little by little. I believe deception also plays a part. We think, if we do "this much," then all is well concerning our salvation and our relationship to God and others.

For American churchgoers to become hungry for the Word of God, I think that we need to keep God in the highest place in our life. I think it would also take heartfelt prayer, a realization of our desperate need for God and a desire to have the heart, character and mind of God. Just a few questions to ponder: Who are we without God? What is life without God? What can we do without God?

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