The Problem with the American Dream


Wealth, power, and romance don't bring a person fulfillment; rather, a relationship with God does.

You grow up and graduate high school. You sign away future thousands in the name of continuing education. It will be worth it later. You pick a major that will yield a comfortable life ahead. You study hard, but not too hard, and you graduate. You land a starter job, but you certainly won’t stay there. A few years later, you get married and you need a house. Adjustable rate mortgage? Why not? You obviously need a dog and a fence to go with it. But now, you need a vacation. Charge it. Then, children. Private school and piano lessons paid for by plastic. Now, the worry of bills and talk of downsizing overwhelms you. You should have more fun.  Your neighbor has a boat. You should get a boat. You deserve a boat and a truck to tow it. Eventually, your fun depleted all of your funds and now you’re in real trouble. Sound familiar?

What is your source of joy?

The idea of the American Dream–pulling oneself up by the bootstraps and making a good life–pervades our society. If we haven't made it yet, it's because we aren't trying hard enough. We've all believed if we had any of the things our neighbors have attained, we would be happy too. God's blessing works according to a different set of rules. The Bible promises that if you "Delight yourself in the Lord, he will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4). Moreover, "The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it" (Proverbs 10:22). Wealth, power, and romance don't bring a person fulfillment, but rather, relationship with God does. When He blesses you, it's the fruit of loving Him.

Later in God's Word, Jesus seems to complicate the matter: "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33b). When asked what the greatest commandment was, "Jesus replied: ' "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment, and the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself." All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments' " (Matthew 22:37-40).

The bottom line: Love God, Love Others

According to the Bible, the way to experience the greatest blessing and overcome the hardest circumstances is by complete dependence on the Lord. Following Jesus allows for no selfishness. If we are to love God and love others truly, we have to let go of worldly wisdom and human hierarchy. The quickest way to the top is not crushing everybody else, but "The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted" (Matthew 23:11, 12).

The American Dream is a facade. It doesn't exist, but the Lord's blessing does. His promises never fail.

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