Archives For American Dream

We humans are constantly on the epic journey to find the meaning of life. It drives some of us quite crazy. Let’s look at some of the idols we Americans frequently put in place in our lives:

  • We must have a bigger and bigger home to make our life meaningful — I must admit that I am a regular watcher of the TV show “House Hunters”. On the show is typically a family of mom, dad and often times a small child or sometimes two. The couple almost always says that their current house of 2,000 sq ft is simply too small now that they have a child. They now need at least 3,000 sq ft! The show then follows them around trying to find the dream house. I guess they never listened to grandma, or grandpa tells stories about how they raised 6 kids in a house of less than 1,000 sq ft. And of course they must also have granite countertops and, of course, stainless appliances in the kitchen; nothing else is simply good enough. Constantly seeking more and more is the driving factor in their lives.
  • The CEO’s of American corporations are now typically making more in a day than some of their employees make in a year. It wasn’t that long ago where heads of companies typically made about 20- 40 times the lowest wage earner in their company. Most CEO’s have such inflated egos that they think they are worth the increased amount. After all being so superior to others is the driving factor in their lives and the more money the more superior.
  • Some families spend up to $100/week playing the various State lotteries trying to hit it big. They are convinced that if they just had enough money that their lives would have meaning. I recently watched a documentary entitled “The Curse of the Lottery”. In that show there was example after example of people winning the “big one” and then within three years they were broke and their life was spinning down the proverbial drain! How can that be?? After all they won the big one!! Why didn’t it give their life meaning?

Postscript:  Here is the latest story on winning the “big one” .   http://buzz.yahoo.com/buzzlog/92967?fp=1

  

I could go on and on with examples but I’m sure you get the idea. Finding things of this world that will give our lives meaning simply don’t exist. I don’t quote Old Testament scripture often (I dwell in the New Covenant, not so much the old one :)) but here is a very appropriate verse for this post:

Eccl 5:10 NIV

Whoever loves money never has money enough;

Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.

This too is meaningless.

 
So if you are looking to money and the things that it buys to be the meaning of life you better look elsewhere cause that ain’t it. Next time I will give you the secret about the TRUE meaning of life. I suspect many of you have already discovered it, or at least given the nature of this blog know where I am going.

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All humans seem to innately seek the meaning of life. It is built into the core of our existence. It is one of the crucial things that make us human. My Basset Hound Beulah is quite intent just to get her ears rubbed on a regular basis and to make our daily trek out to the mailbox. (All of you who might have a Basset know that you must keep them on a leash constantly or they will get utterly lost tracking a scent that totally envelopes their attention; i.e. The ever present leash even to the mailbox . Too bad we humans aren’t put on a leash when we get too focused on something that is not good for us :). We humans just aren’t the way our pets are. We need to know why we exist!

Many, especially us Westerners, spend our lives seeking things of the world to give us meaning. Before I understood where the source of this fulfillment really comes from I  spent an outrageously amount of time seeking the meaning of life. At one point I was totally immersed into the psychology thing. I read book after book of such titles as “I’m Ok – Your OK”. I became an Eric Berne freak. I couldn’t get enough of him or Maslow, or a number of other authors in the field of psychology. After a number of years I came to the same conclusion that the character played by Bob Newhart had in the TV series “Newhart”. “Psychology is a croak!” It just didn’t give me the sustainable answers I was looking for. I apologize to all you psychologists out there. I’m sure you do a mountain of good to those who really need it. But, I didn’t really need it!

 But at least I didn’t take the path that many do and get into drugs or such things. I fortunately also didn’t have a mid-life crisis where I sold everything to get a motorcycle and a young chick on my arm. (My wife would have killed me if I had tried that!) I was way to shy for that sort of thing anyway, thank the Lord. And I also didn’t literally go up the mountain to seek the ultimate wisdom of some other guru.

 God built this “why we exist” urge in us for a reason. But it took me years to discover it. Many today are in the same vicious cycle that I was. For some it is vocational success; for others it is money; for others it is something else. It is almost always about “stuff”

 I will spend the next few posts talking about idols that we futilely try to put in place to seek the meaning of life.

Jesus intends for us to serve others rather than for us to expect others to serve us. I think that many people in the United States have that message reversed. They dream of having enough money to have people constantly waiting on them and to fill their every need. After all, that is the American dream isn’t it? Well, it may be the American dream but it should not be an “Kingdom of God” citizens’ dream. Let’s look at some of the red letters in this area.

 Matt 20:25-28

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

 Luke 16:13-15

“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.

NIV

 The words in Matthew make it clear that those who want to become great (in the kingdom of God) you must serve others. Jesus’ entire ministry was about serving and he expects us to follow his lead. The second verse (Luke 16) is more about loving money over God but many would argue that is also a issue predominately American in nature. The cornerstone of capitalist governments is the love of money. So, that verse feeds into both this post and the last one. Let’s not let our dreams be selfish in nature and especially not about money.