Jesus and "The American Dream"

Meet Jim,  a highly educated, successful man on all visible accounts. His home is lavish, the kind people dream of. It sits high on a cliff overlooking the ocean, perfect to catch the pacific sunsets each night. He’s married to a beautiful wife, father to two high achiever kids. His cars are fast, his food is good, and his savings account full to the brim. He’s basically insured to have live in extravagant comfort until his death, with enough to be passed on to his children.

This is the American dream, right? Having more than enough to be happy, comfortable, nothing to worry about in the world…it doesn’t get any better than this as the dream says…

I wrestle with this, because somewhere in my dreams of the future, something along the lines of this is true for me. Maybe not the huge house, but its my desire to have nothing to worry about, my desire for certainty in an uncertain world.

I read the words of Jesus, and I’m sobered by his radical view of life.

“take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

Yikes. While I don’t normally attribute covetousness for my life, I can’t argue that I desire abundance in the physical realm. My response is, “well, I don’t want to be rich. Just have enough.” Guilty still, because my standard of having enough is my best attempt to try to control my life. What about God? What about loosing my life, so I can find it? What about trusting Him with everything?

How about this one…

“the ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully {think of Jim in our story}. And he thought to himself,  ‘what shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ {What should Jim do, after he has way more money in his bank account than he’s spending?} So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.{Jim sells his house, and buys the biggest and nicest one he can afford to store all his toys in} And I will say to my soul, ‘soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’  {Jim has more than enough, so much he can retire and enjoy his luxurious lifestyle in peace and happiness}

“But God said to him, FOOL! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?

So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Do not worry about your life, what you will eat, nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.

Do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things.

But seek the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

Do not fear little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” Luke 12

I woke up this morning, feeling anxious about various things. Luke 12 is comforting to me, so I opened it up, ready to jump to my favorite part. But today I felt the nudge to start at the beginning of chapter 12. When I got to the parable, I read it quickly like I normally do, ready to get to the “good stuff”. Again I felt the nudge, read it again, but put it modern context. That’s where the story of Jim came to. And here I sit, totally impacted by the radical words of Jesus. He’s demanding another level of my trust today, a new paradigm for faith, another reminder that my life is not my own. My life is about drawing closer to Christ, and sharing the life and love I find with others. Not just any kind of love,  but love from above. Love that gives, but doesn’t demand in return. Love that is limitless. Love only possible by Jesus, through the power of His Spirit.

I want my counterfeit American dream to die on the rocks of my control. Then I realize, this isn’t my thinking. This is the Spirit working in my life. He knows where I’m at, and is the only leader fit for this. I might not get here overnight, but I’m on the journey…on the journey of giving up my control, finding instead the captain of my soul navigating me through the treacherous waters of this life. But with him at the helm, I can sleep in the storm. With Him, I can find the abundant life my heart is screaming for, but it will be the real thing. Not some dingy illusion that I hope to muster up in myself. It will be “Christ in me, the hope of Glory.” – Nathan