being different from the culture only happens as a gift from God. its not something we can work hard enough at until we get to the point that our lives line up with the bible... God does tell his followers to work out our salvation [phil. 2:12], and to press on to maturity [hebrews 6:1], but says that this will only happen if God permits [hebrews 6:3].
there have been some encouraging victories in my life where God has really been working to change me to line me up more with His character, and these things are especially apparent when i am around people who dont claim to follow jesus. one example is that i used to hate the idea of motherhood, tensing up every time i thought about it. graciously God has changed that in the past few years, to the point now where i am willing to take that step and make that sacrifice. i am reminded of God's grace to change me in this way when i have told my co-workers about the fact that we are adopting, i have gotten a look of surprise and bewilderment (because of my young age) almost every time the subject comes up.
but there are ways that jesus is still in the process of saving me from the american dream. one area i especially struggle in is going to stores with nice stuff or going to people's houses who own lots of nice stuff. i instantly get jealous, and want to have a nice house with nice stuff... and then a second later i judge those people who have the nice house/nice stuff, or the people who are at the store paying the ridiculously high prices for things.
your desire and my desire for the american dream (and anything else we want more than God) is sin that jesus died on the cross to pay for. he also died to pay for our sin of self-righteousness when we feel more spiritual than other people who are pursing the american dream. what leads to maturity is to remembering that its in God's hands... and throwing ourselves down before Him, asking Him to change us.
if any of this rings true in your life, you might enjoy this lecrae video as much as i do. in the background are some clips from my favorite mark driscoll sermon, i especially love this quote:
"in our day, rebel means sinner. but everyone is sinning, so its no longer rebellious to sin"
in what ways are you rebellion against the culture, or struggling to do so?