I work with some of the most affluent people in our town. There are days where I long to not have student loans, to be able to be a member at the place I work, to not have to use a budget or track my spending. And though many people can buy nice cars and nice houses and nice things, I am struck by how empty so many of them are. Are they truly living the “American Dream”?
Are we? Where we are building storage units to house our clutter and hospitals to house the sick. Where mental disease is rampant and misunderstood and where scores and scores of children don’t know where they will get their next meal. Are we living FDR’s “American Dream”?
This fourth of July week, I’ve been listening to “American Dream” by Switchfoot. The lyrics are especially poignant given the state of our society – though affluent in things – lacking in true purpose.
Success is equated with excess/ When you’re fighting for the Beamer, the Lexus/ As the heart and the soul breathe in the company goals/ Where success is equated with excess
If our culture says that success is equated with excess – that keeping up with the Joneses is how we fit in – what does that say about the true nature of our hearts?
I want out of this machine/ It doesn’t feel like freedom/ This ain’t my American dream/ I want to live and die for bigger things/ I’m tired of fighting for just me/ This ain’t my American dream
I think the writer hits the nail on the head – this machine of success and keeping up with everyone around us – it doesn’t feel like freedom.
The American dream isn’t fighting for Beamers and Lexuses. The American dream is living and dying for something bigger than ourselves. It’s fighting for someone bigger than just ourselves. It’s fighting to love our neighbors well. It’s fighting for food to get on the tables of the poor. It’s fighting for the less fortunate and inviting into our homes the faint of heart.
This dream looks a lot less like stuff and a lot more like a person – Jesus. A lot less like fighting over the Internet and a lot more like eating around a table. A lot less like disagreeing over social issues and a lot more like getting to know your neighbors’ stories. A lot less like standing on a corner shouting at people because they believe differently and a lot more like opening your home to be a safe haven.
All around us, there will be people who, at times, prosper and who, at times, lack. However, when I fall back into a rut and forget my true calling: to make Jesus’ name famous, I remember the Psalmists’ words – “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance” (Psalm 16:6).
And indeed, what a beautiful inheritance the King of Kings is!