To the Suburban Churches of North America

Do you think that this is what I had in mind when I said, "Follow me," and then headed for Golgotha in Jerusalem?
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A message from the Son of God, Jesus, whom you call Master and who calls you to follow him.

My churches in suburbia are one of the wonders of the world—there has never been anything quite like them. What energy, enthusiasm, generosity! And you're honest. Hypocrisy has always been a big problem for me, and I don't expect ever to eradicate it, but it is not conspicuous among you. Of all forms of pretense, religious pretense is the worst. Thankfully, I don't find many pretenders among you.

But I do have this against you: you're far too impressed with Size and Power and Influence. You are impatient with the small and the slow. You exercise little discernment between the ways of the world and my ways. It distresses me that you so uncritically copy the attitudes and methods that make your life in suburbia work so well. You grab onto anything that works and looks good. You do so many good things, but too often you do them in the world's way instead of mine, and so seriously compromise your obedience.

I understand why, for most of you have gotten along pretty well in the world—you're well-educated, well-housed, well-paid, well-thought-of; it's only natural that you should put the values and methods that have worked so well for you into service for me. But don't you realize that however successful these attitudes and methods have been in achieving American benefits, it has come at a terrible price: depersonalizing people into functions; turning virtually everything into a cause or commodity to be used or fixed or consumed, doing everything you can to keep suffering at arm's length? The suburban church has a lot of people in it, it functions very well, you can make almost anything happen. ...

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