5 Lies American Culture Feeds Us Every Day

We've gotten so used to hearing these, we forget they're not even true.

Finding out you’ve been deceived stinks, but the moment the lie is exposed is important. Why? It is the moment the truth is brought to light. And the truth is what we are seeking. No one wants to live under a cloud of lies. No one wants to operate under a constant barrage of deceptions and false declarations. We want the truth.

We are meant to know the truth. Especially if you are a follower of Jesus. It might not be easy. It might force us to change our perspective or some of the ways we live. It might not always be what we want, but it’s what we need.

Our culture feeds us plenty of lies. And many of us have accepted them for years. The Church has even been shaped by these lies. And it’s time to expose them.

So, here are a few of the lies American culture feeds us every day:

1. You Can Be Anything You Want to Be.

I remember growing up watching Michael Jordan. Everyone wanted to “be like Mike.” And why not? Who doesn’t want to dunk from the free throw line? Gatorade created a genius tagline. But they also created an enormous lie.

You can’t be anything you want to be. But this is a good thing. It frees you up to be the man or woman God has called you to be.

Americans believe this lie because it speaks to the core of American ideals. America does afford people opportunities that other countries do not. That is something to be thankful for. But this value creates the lie many believe every day. We tell people that if they work harder and never give up, they can be anything they want to be.

Most of us realize this is false by the time we reach adulthood. There are many things we could work hard to achieve and never actually achieve.

The truth is every person has a unique set of talents and abilities.

You can’t be anything you want to be. But this is a good thing. It frees you up to be the man or woman God has called you to be.

2. Your Actions Have No Bearing on Anybody Else.

No man is an island. Sin has consequences that reach beyond the individual into the community of people around you.

To the guy or girl who believes lusting or a pornography addiction has no bearing on any other person, you have believed a lie. True, you might not be in a relationship now, but eventually you might, and your actions in the present will carry into that future relationship. To the guy or girl who thinks jealousy and bitterness are not hurting anyone else, you have been deceived. These will break down your relationships.

Your actions are affecting others. Maybe not in the moment. Maybe not tomorrow. But eventually it will happen.

3. There is Only One Road You Can Take.

God has a plan for your life. But this idea that there is only one road in life is false. It is no where in Scripture. It is everywhere in culture.

I have witnessed this too many times. A college graduate is torn between two choices. They worry, make pros and cons lists, maybe they ask God for clarity. And inherent in this response is the notion that God only has one set road for your life and whether you choose the right one is directly dependent on your ability to seek Him.

If this is true, then I am terrible at seeking the Lord. There have been many times in my life when I was presented with multiple options. And all of them appeared viable. So I prayed to God for clarity. Cue the Jeopardy music. I waited. And waited. And waited. No sign. No clarity. Well, what now? Was I not praying hard enough? Did I choose the wrong road?

Absolutely not.

God’s plan for our lives is not always linear. This is a Western mindset, not a Biblical one. God’s direction can include branches and offsets. The path to the final destination can be achieved more than one way.

God’s design for your life is for you to seek Him with all of your heart. When you get to a fork in the road, pray about it and then just choose a road. Stop wasting months. Stop waiting on “clarity.” Stop agonizing over whether you chose the “right” road. Just choose a road. If you are seeking the Lord, there is no wrong road.

4. Individualism is a Noble Pursuit.

Richard Koch said,“If there is one defining quality of the West, it is individualism.” It’s sad, but true. Individualism makes the claim you and I should not be dependent on any other person. You take care of you.

Often, the Western Church is not much different. It is almost frowned upon to be dependent upon something or someone other than yourself. We might not directly say it, but we sometimes believe it: “Who cares if Jesus said stuff about losing your life? Who cares about all of that radical sacrifice stuff? God gave you a brain, He expects you to use it.”

Tragically, Christianity in America often confuses faith in God with just faith in self with some Godly values attached.

Translation: God thinks logically. He would never expect you to make a decision that flies in the face of self-reliance. Don’t sell your house. Don’t give your savings to feed the hungry. Don’t move into the inner city. It is dangerous there.

Tragically, Christianity in America often confuses faith in God with just faith in self with some Godly values attached. Dependence on self and faith in God are mutually exclusive. Choose a side. But don’t choose both. To choose both is to choose neither.

5. If You are not Busy, You are Lazy.

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American culture is filled with exhausted men and women. Depression is at an astronomically high rate. So is anxiety. Why? At least in part because we have a culture that says if every hour is not filled with something, you are lazy or unproductive.

This rubs hard against the ways and rhythms of Jesus. To Jesus, Sabbath and retreating were as integral to His mission as engaging, healing and teaching.

If we learn anything from Jesus, we learn this: Productivity is not achieved without a constant rhythm of engage and retreat. This culture doesn’t need busier people. This culture needs more productive people. It needs more people who follow the way of Jesus.

Retreating is not an insignificant activity. It might just be the most productive part of our week.

An earlier version of this article was published at frankpowell.me

Top Comments



Dave commented…

You forgot to mention the popular myth that America is somehow God's favorite nation rather than viewing all nations as equally worthy of salvation.

Mike Stone


Mike Stone commented…

I think all of the points are valid, but the article has limited usefulness without bringing up how the gospel refutes those lies. For example: in lie #1, we don't need to find our identity our worth in our achievements or accomplishments because we have ultimate identity as children of God. For lies 2 & 4, the gospel tells us that we are members of one body, so the actions of one part effect the other parts, and each part has to work in concert with the others.

Jesus always exposed lies, but offered truth to replace them.


Kip Law


Kip Law commented…

I appreciate point #3 about there only being one road to follow in life. I don't believe this is speaking about the road to heaven, rather it's talking about that rut we drive ourselves into ALL of the time where things are exactly definite.

I recently transferred into NYU. Prior to my transfer I was a student at a community college and 6 years prior to that, I was a student at another University in NYC. When I applied to NYU I applied to several other schools and ended up getting into all of them. I was conflicted about what I 'should' do because I didn't want to let God down. One of the schools I applied to was a Christian school. I figured going to the Christian school where I could live on campus and meet a Christian man was the obvious choice, but I couldn't bear to pass up a scholarship to NYU.

When I accepted the offer to NYU, I was devastated. I just KNEW God was shaking His finger at me in disappointment. However, I don't know if it would've mattered where I went. Either way, God would've provided. It's not to say God does not lead us or guide us or have ideals in mind for us, but I believe He provides for us in whatever situation we're in and whatever decisions we make. His wisdom isn't conditional and He's not limited by our decisions.

We have this idea of walking outside of 'God's Will for our life' as if He can't handle our every mistake or every good decision. It's crazy. Besides obeying His Word, His will for our life can look like and mean a lot different things. It's not always straight forward or pretty.

Elisa Kim


Elisa Kim commented…

Yes, rest in Christ indeed^^* Keeping busy till burn out is not healthy.
When one is feeling sick from not only physical health. Rest is required
as well. Sometimes I feel pressured to get back to busy again, but for
the most part I am in the process of learning to let my no mean no. Finally.
I used to say yes, too much.



Dave commented…

Hmm... How about the "Rights" we talk about having as American Christians...

Gayle Ervin Blair


Gayle Ervin Blair commented…

As for #5, I finally came to realize that doing one or two things well is far more productive than doing many things not to the best of my ability.

Andy Hogue


Andy Hogue commented…

"Please don't be Christian, please don't be Christian, please don't be Christian ..."

... I mumbled to myself, as I scrolled by an America-bashing article on my Facebook account. Alas, it was. And an Evangelical magazine, for that matter.

It's gotten to where even liberals who want to re-write the Constitution and our history textbooks are at least somewhat happy about their country and willing to stand by her. Oddly, it's the Evangelical-leaning Christians who keep criticizing "American culture" in some vain attempt to "connect with" a generation perceived as being post-Christian, post-Evangelical, post-patriotic, post-whatever.

Perhaps the only thing we are is post-Watergate. It's time to stop throwing America under the bus, Relevant Magazine. America-bashing hasn't been cool since the Bush Administration.

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