The American Dream is a lie.
And the church has fallen for it
Hook. Line. Sinker. Game over.
We've been told all of our lives to grab for the brass ring- the college education, the high paying job, the promotion, the next promotion, the big house, the bigger house, the hot car.
It's never enough go, earn, spend. Upsize, expand, upgrade-
The American Dream.
But what is God's Dream?
I keep hearing in the American church that Gods dream is for me to live... Well live what sounds mysteriously just like the American Dream- but what does His word say?
New Living Translation (©2007)
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.
Ok it's a verse we all know and a verse that makes us all squirm, because we live in 'Merica land of the plenty, the more, the fabulous. Any middle income American can have so much amazing STUFF and all the shiny things catch our eyes and divert our attention from where it should be.
Most of us fall into the more stuff trap- at least time to time. It makes us focus more on working than on our families because it costs A LOT to acquire those shiny new things.
But it's just not what our focus is to be.
In and of itself the American Dream was once not such a bad thing.
It was the belief that, in this fledgling nation, if one worked hard enough to better himself, in character and career that he and his family would prosper. That a no body with determination and work ethic could become a successful somebody and that the future generations would find themselves better off than the last.
That - I do not think is wrong.
What is wrong is that we have allowed the American Dream to become a faith of its own and in doing so made it idolatrous. Not only have we set it up as a rival to the true faith , but we pursue it more than we pursue the things of God.
Furthermore, the American Dream of the 2000's looks little like the original dream.
The American Dream of today is not led by a desire to better our family and thereby making a stronger country but instead by greed.
We want what the others have. We NEED it. We have in fact, in the prosperous times (despite our economic downturn one cannot argue that Americans are prosperous far beyond the majority of the world) where are immediate needs are met have created superficial "needs" which are not needs at all, just greedy desires that allow us to keep pace in the stuff race with those around us.
We work ourselves to death to acquire bigger houses, pay ridiculous car payments and provide our kids with expensive clothes- all so we fit in with the rest.
As Christians our focus is to be on others, but we have allowed ourselves to become like the rest and focus on ourselves and making sure we all have what Everyone else has.
We've become like the rich man who couldn't leave his treasures behind to follow Jesus (Matthew 19:16-22) What the rich young man didnt realize is what Jesus wanted was not to just take treasures from Him but lead Him to greater treasures in heaven.
Have we as Americans become this young man? Seeking Constantly to get ahead in this life while neglecting those of the Christian life?
What could we do with our time and money if only we stopped pursuing things and started pursuing Him.
We are told in James 1:27 that
New International Version
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
How many of the 147 million orphans could we help if we sought to live our lives providing our needs for our families instead of living in excess?
Am I saying we have to give it all away?No. I'm not saying never buy your kids a nice outfit or a nice gift. Get rid of all your flat screens and cancel the cable. Trade in your luxury vehicle for a clunker.
I'm not. (Im not but Jesus probably might be )
We live in America and we have been blessed. Living in America affords us opportunities others lack.
But I do think we need to stop living in the excesses of life.
Yes buy your kids new clothes. But do you need to buy them so many that they get worn once or twice at the most?
(So guilty of this)
Do you really need to upgrade your 46" LCD to a 60" led 3D or maybe can you use that money to give to a local women's shelter or a clean water project in a developing nation?
Can you get by in a Ford instead of Bmw and instead faithfully support your church's missionaries who are probably trying to serve Gods calling in some best up old bus?
How many bedrooms, baths and square footage do you need for your family? Do you really need to upgrade to the development property you've been eyeing or will your family be happy in your current home without the stress of the huge mortgage.
In the worlds eyes all these things are necessary to make us look better but if we start seeing things through Gods see we will see these material things are only temporary and the "happiness" they bring does not last and quite often brings with it more pain and stress and takes our focus from what is truly important.
Lets stop envying our neighbors and start being happy with what we have.
Stop spending on every want, living in excess and instead use the abundance God has granted us to bless OTHERS as He calls us to do.
A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor. Prov. 22:9
I'm sorry but paying your tithe and sitting in a church isn't enough. God wants us to live out this faith in a real way - in a way that affects every aspect of our life.
The world needs to see Christians getting out of the pews and out into the streets taking hope to the hopeless.
If we stop focusing on getting more stuff and pursuing this new American Dream of excess it will free up time and money to walk out our faith.
You may not drive in the nicest car in your neighborhood or have the biggest house but you will have an abundance of joy - one that is true and lasting.
I'm not condemning anyone. This is something God has been working on our hearts too , changing our view of what's important, what is real. We are just now beginning to walk it ourselves as He calls us to things we never saw coming. Already we have such joy and peace and just a desire to serve Him more instead of worrying about gaining all the world has to offer.
If any of this resonates in you you might be interested in
The 7- An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker
I've just started reading it after God wrecked us and changed life as we knew it.
Also a good read (from what I hear, I haven't read it but some at my new church are)
Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream
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