American Empire

Grant Montgomery – Grant’s Rants on The Holy American Empire

Previously we established that the majority of the Bible was written by a minority people living under the rule and reign of massive, mighty empires. This fact can make the Bible a very difficult book to understand if you’re reading it as a citizen of the most powerful empire the world has ever seen.

And what is true of empires is true of empires today. We see throughout the Bible that empires naturally accumulate wealth and resources. Today, America controls nearly 20% of the world’s wealth. There are nearing 8 billion people in the world, and there are roughly 300,000,000 people in the United States, which makes America less than 4% of the world’s population.

So this 4% owns 20% of the world’s wealth. Plus we consume far more than our share.

A few highlights:
– More than half of the world lives on less than two dollars a day, while an average American teenager may spend close to $150 a week.
– 1 billion people in the world do not have access to clean water, while the average American uses 400 to 600 liters of water a day.
– Every seven seconds, somewhere in the world a child under age 5 dies of hunger, while Americans throw away 14% of the food we purchase.
– Overall, nearly 40% of our food goes to waste in the United States — either in the fields, on the docks, in grocery stores or in people’s homes. That’s 165 billion pounds of food every year.
– Most of the people in the world do not own a car. 1/3 of American families own 3 cars.
-The 4% in the United States account for 25% of global oil consumption.
– The USA accounts for 48% of global military spending. So less than 4% of the world’s population purchases nearly half of the world’s weapons.
– As a last fitting illustration, Americans spend more annually on trash bags than nearly half of the world does on all goods!

Human history has never witnessed the abundance that we consider normal in America. We have more resources than any group of people anywhere at any time has ever had. Ever.

Empires accumulate. And that accumulation has consequences. Blessings and abundance can turn into burdens and curses. The number of Americans taking antidepressants has tripled in the past decade. If all of this was supposed to make us happy, why are so many of us so sad?

In the Bible, Moses spoke of the need to constantly tell the story of the Exodus, God’s rescue of His people from slavery: “Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks are large, and your silver and gold increase, and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you’ll forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt. “ (Deuteronomy 8:12-14)

How does a person “forget God”? The answer we’ve seen again and again in the Scriptures is that you forget God when you forget the people God cares about. Over and over God speaks of the widow, the orphan, and the refugee. This is how you remember God: you bless those who need it the most in the same way that God blessed you when you needed it the most.

In empires of indifference, as it becomes harder and harder to understand the perspective of the rest of the world, it becomes easier and easier to confuse blessing with entitlement. Entitlement leads to immunity to the suffering of others.

In empires of entitlement, luxuries can begin to seem like necessities. Excess can become normal. And it can be very easy to lose perspective on just how much we have. The powerful forces of entitlement convince us certain things are deserved.

In empire, you believe in that which you preserve, you preserve that which you are entitled to, and you are entitled to that which you have accumulated. This is the religion of empire.

If the system works for you, it can be quite hard to understand the perspective of people who have the boot of the system on their neck. If you have the power, it can be hard to understand the voice of those who have no power. If you have choices, options, and luxuries, it can be hard to fathom the anger of those who don’t.

How do you keep the exodus, the grace of God, alive in your lives?
– By remembering the poor.
– By giving unconditionally. In doing so, you’ll be reminded of the God who gives unconditionally.
– By extending grace to others in their oppression. In doing so, you’ll be reminded of the grace extended to you in yours.

Our standing in solidarity with the single parent, the unemployed, the refugee, our joining the God of the oppressed to work for justice in the world, doesn’t just to make a difference for those who are suffering. It also rescues us.

Whereas disconnection from the suffering of the world, isolation from the cry of the oppressed, indifference to the poverty around us will always lead to despair.

We are made for so much more. We must use our resources, talents, skills and passions that God has given us to make the world a better place.

[Inspired by “Jesus wants to save Christians” by Rob Bell and Don Golden]

Grant Montgomery – Grant’s Rants on The Holy American Empire