The American Dream is one of the toughest obstacles we face in the pursuit of Christ. We live in a culture more saturated with a vision of becoming “Instagram-famous” than eternity. For many the American Dream is the pursuit of a well-paying job, flexible work schedule, a good-looking spouse, a house, kids, and a nice car. Though the American Dream may individually play out differently, the pursuit is the same: our satisfactions and pleasures being found in something other than Christ.
As followers of Christ we are called to live life counter-culturally and not focus on the American Dream. We should be leveraging our lives, ambitions, blessings, earnings, and finances so the gospel may advance.
The Bible is laced with verses about living for eternity. Paul alerted Timothy about the pleasures of the world:
But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.… But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. (1 Tim. 6:6,9, esv)
He continued warning us about money:
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. (vv. 10-11)
Paul took it a step further and told Timothy how to guard himself: “Pursue righteousness.… Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” (vv. 11-12). We are to guard ourselves from the pitfall of greed by pursuing righteousness and a proper view of eternity. When we have an inaccurate view of this life, we derive a false sense of hope. We too often look to fleeting benefits, when we should be holding fast to the future reward.
Materialism is rarely a blatant excuse. I’ve never had anyone say to me, “I would love to be enlisted in God’s mission, but I’m materialistic and am completely fixed on my personal satisfaction.” Most people never acknowledge being controlled by the pursuit of ease. Materialism is a silent excuse.
The tough part is not giving up the flashy car, but saying yes to living in a village with no running water, no electricity, no relatives, and no medical aid. Or living in a low-income area filled with drugs or sex offenders. That’s a very tough “yes.” Putting yourself or your family in the “no insurance policy” part of the world isn’t what most consider wise. We are creatures of comfort. We value the security of knowing we and our loved ones will be safe. Material comforts give us that false sense of security. Materialism, for all of us, lurks around each corner. Hold fast.
By Josh Cooper