the American dream

I find myself guilty of it sometimes. I do. I live in a suburban home and own two vehicles. I bask in the glow of modern technology and find my every needs met by a vast consumer driven culture. I have the security of health insurance, car insurance, life insurance and even a little savings. I even (gulp) sometimes look into the future and see the possibility of not having to work for a living. I find myself caught up in the dream of the American middle and upper classes…and I am sorry.

I know this seems like a weird thing to apologize for. After all, doesn’t the system that we operate in push us towards these things? Isn’t the object of working to one day not have to worry about working? But here is where my apology takes effect. The vocation/calling that my life and career centers around does not allow for this, or maybe I am not sure if it should allow for this. I just have a hard time reconciling a 401k with the retirement plans of those of the early church. Most of their retirement plans included incarceration, exile and even death. And yet, I am even encouraged to make sure that as a minister of the gospel I am planning ahead for those “golden” years so that I too can take a break from my work.

Here is where it gets fun. I hear people say to me all the time, “you are young, you will understand these things when you are older”. Well, I keep getting older and I still don’t understand. James 4:13-16 says, “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.” Life is short. And yet we plan and prepare as if these moments are guaranteed us. The only thing guaranteed us in this life is death and then eternity. So why am I so concerned about this “dream” that doesn’t even seem to sync with the gospel and certainly doesn’t carry any weight in eternity?

Now I am not suggesting that one be foolish with their resources or squander them and place themselves in financial jeopardy or in need of financial dependence upon some governmental agency. But I am also not saying that one should completely orient their life around saving for a day that may never come. I think all too often the issue really comes down to trust. It is a lot easier to trust in this “dream” of our hands where we see the fruits of our labor invested in securities than it is to trust in unseen hands that will hold us for eternity. And I for one can’t seem to figure out why.

Maybe I am just young and naive. But maybe that isn’t such a bad way to be.

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One response to “the American dream

  • kendra

    I completely get what you are saying. None of us know what tomorrow will bring.I think the key words are boast and arrogant.I do think though that He expects us to use the brain he has given us and save for when we are too old to work. I may die before then but so be it. I must trust him with my future yet plan for the possibility of being old and unable to support myself. I could be wrong but I trust he will show me if so. : )

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