Christian American Privilege ~ Written by Bridget Depew
I went to Target today to return a couple items. When I was done, I casually wandered over to the Starbucks inside Target and ordered my usual iced caramel macchiato with whipped cream. I waited for them to make my drink, scrolling through Instagram mindlessly, without a care in the world. It wasn’t until I walked out of the store, sipping my overpriced drink that I realized…I have Christian American privilege.
As I made my way to my car, I was struck by the fact that in the time it took me to return two items of clothing I didn’t need and order a way too sugary drink I needed even less, Israeli parents were fighting for and mourning the loss of children they very much need.
All of a sudden, I was keenly aware of the freedom and leisure being an American and the joy and peace of being a Christian.
We Americans go about life with a relative ease that, I submit, we take for granted. To be clear, I’m not saying we don’t encounter hardships or struggles. We certainly do. But I believe it’s important to view our struggles with a certain perspective. We may struggle to pay bills, have jobs we’re tired of, and children who test our nerves. But we have all that without the worry of someone forcing their way into our home and terrorizing our family. Our freedom was hard fought. A sacrifice was made on our behalf so that we can live our lives without the fear of imminent danger lurking around the corner. However, many Americans, though grateful for our clear and present freedom, fear what lies ahead. They may experience American privilege, but Christian American privilege eludes them.
When I walked out of Target, it was easy for me to feel safe in my current surroundings. There were no terrorists flooding the parking lot, murdering men and kidnapping helpless women and children. But what lies in wait? I felt safe in my current surroundings, but what about my future surroundings? Given the current state of our border and the lack of vigilance on the part of our government, it’s not too far-fetched to imagine America suffering a similar fate as Israel. I know the possibility of a very different future. But I have a Christian privilege that affords me the luxury of “be[ing] anxious for nothing.” (Phil. 4:6 NKJV) That said, how do we as Christians reconcile our present, against the backdrop of our future?
The disciples may have experienced the same quandary during their time with Jesus. Though they knew their beloved Friend’s days with them were numbered, I believe they felt a certain safety and peace while they were with Jesus. When Jesus spoke of His death and their needing to carry on without Him, I wonder how many disciples put their hands up to their ears, shook their heads and said, “Lalalala…I can’t hear you, Jesus.” The disciples likely had to look over their shoulders and remain on guard because they knew Jesus was being targeted by the Romans for the truth He was sharing. Overall, I think they tried to focus on and enjoy their current, albeit, temporary moments of peace, love, and laughter with Jesus. At some point, however, Jesus had to hold their faces and open their eyes, forcing them to look to a future without Him in the flesh. How did the disciples reconcile their present, against the backdrop of their future?
It was their privilege that enabled them to do so—their privilege of being chosen. Jesus chose those twelve men to follow Him. And he didn’t choose individuals who were extraordinary, renown or high-profile. He chose average, run of the mill men who were flawed and had weaknesses in one area or another. Jesus trusted these unassuming men with the spreading of a gospel that would turn the world upside down. The disciples had no idea the challenging path that lay before them, but Jesus knew; and He chose them.
When it was time for Jesus to return to Heaven, He left them with these words: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19-20 NKJV)
You may think you’re not worthy or equipped for what God has for you. You may think that because you’ve doubted God, you can’t possibly encourage others to believe in Him. You may think that because you have experienced anxiety or depression, you’re the last one who should be sharing the hope of Jesus. Those are lies from the enemy. Thomas doubted Jesus. Peter denied Him. Judas betrayed Him. Yet they were among the privileged twelve Jesus chose and considered His close friends and future ambassadors of His message of the gospel. We are not unlike the disciples. They were privileged because they were chosen. We are privileged because we are chosen.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9 CSB)
“For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him.” (Ephesians 1:4)
“You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.” (John 15:16)
So. What will we do with this privilege? Well, what do financially privileged people do with the money they have in abundance? They give it away. They help people with their means, and their help is a comfort to those in need. We, as Christian Americans, should do no less because we have things far more valuable than money. We have the love of God to share. We have the key to eternal life. We have the peace of knowing how this ends. We have the privilege of living life without anxiety, fear, and depression. I can’t think of anything the world needs more.
Soldiers fought wars for our American privilege. Jesus fought on our behalf, storming the gates of hell, conquering death for our Christian privilege.
May we value our privilege and share it with others, remembering there’s no need to fear because Jesus is with us always, even to the end of the age.