I don’t mean to sound so un-American all the time but it just seems like the closer I draw to Christ, the more difficult it is for me to accept some of the ideals that I’ve been taught. One of these ideals is what we call the American dream. While on the surface this dream looks like the greatest opportunity for a successful life that we have, I’ve found that the pursuit of this dream sometimes interferes with my pursuit of the Kingdom of God.
In my opinion, the American Dream has become an excuse to pursue "more" without conscience of how our pursuit affects those around us. It affects our family, friends, neighbors, the Church, our relationships, and much much more. I've never read anything about this "American Dream" in scripture. I have only to look at the lives of Christ, Paul and the other in the Bible to realize that what I've been promised by our "Government" was never guaranteed by my Savior.
I think that we sometimes twist scripture so that we can justify our pursuit of more. We take verses like John 10:10 and qualify our compulsion to gather more stuff when in reality the abundant life that Christ promised has nothing to do with worldly wealth. I like the way the message paraphrases this verse.
John 10:10 (The Message)
6-10Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. "I'll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn't listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
Compare this to what comedian George Carlin said about abundance:
“Actually this is just a place for my stuff, ya know? That's all, a little place for my stuff. That's all I want, that's all you need in life, is a little place for your stuff, ya know? I can see it on your table; everybody's got a little place for their stuff. This is my stuff, that's your stuff, that'll be his stuff over there. That's all you need in life, a little place for your stuff. That's all your house is: a place to keep your stuff. If you didn't have so much stuff, you wouldn't need a house. You could just walk around all the time.”
The American dream has fostered the idea that we all need more stuff!
One thing I’ve discovered and over the last year is the fact that I am rich. I might not fit into “Americas” definition of rich because I don’t have enough stuff, but I am rich nonetheless. I am talking strictly about my monetary means. I’m not talking about an abundance of peace, joy, happiness, etc… I’m not making light of these things that Christ has given me but I also have great wealth compared to many others in this world. The American dream says that I should save, store and invest this wealth so that I can rise above the poverty that I see around me and by my rise to the top, I create opportunities for those around me to rise to the top also or at the very least, they can feed themselves with the crumbs that I have left over. The bible tells me the opposite. That I should go out and be among these people and “share my wealth” because my life is short and these things that I hang onto along with my own life will be gone in the twinkling of an eye. Jesus never rose above anything other than the grave; instead he lowered himself so that everyone may have the same opportunity that he does. That is, he sacrificed all that he had so that whosoever would believe in him would not perish but have life everlasting. Through his sacrifice and his death we have an opportunity to experience life in a real and eternal way. This opportunity, this “dream” calls for us to sacrifice because at the core of this dream is Jesus and Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice that is incredibly and simply… love. Not money, things, family, friends, joy, happiness, wealth and prosperity but Love. The American dream says that if you want these things in your life, then you need to pursue wealth, prosperity and success. Jesus’ dream says the if you pursue a relationship with him and his kingdom, then you will not want for these things.
The american dreams states that I should get an education and earn infinite amounts of money so that I may gain great happiness and never want for anything. God's dream says that I go to college and out of my 20 dollar a week meal allowance, I use half to sponsor a child less fortunate than I am that I've never meet but have a burden in my heart for. (www.compassion.com)
The american dream says to use my talent and passion for basketball to pursue a multi-million dollar contract in the NBA. God’s dream says to use that talent and passion for basketball to start a ministry, at age 9, that would generate enough money to build a school and medical testing lab in Africa for children who have lost their parents to AIDS. (www.hoopsofhope.org)
The american dreams states that to rise above our servitude that we are to pursue the riches available to kings. God’s dream says that in order to be heirs in the kingdom we must first fall to our knees and wash the feet of those we love, even those who would later betray us. (The Bible - John 13)
The american dream is about personal success. God's dream is about personal sacrifice.