We can preach against pursuing the American dream, but until we deal with why we are held captive to it, our sermons will not produce permanent, lasting change. Like a moth to a flame, our hearts will be drawn back to the lure of the dream.
The definition of the American dream, I think, is that money is essential and the optimal way to security and to pleasure. Jesus dealt directly with the American dream in Matthew 6. He explained that most people who live for money do so for 1 of 2 reasons: (1) some think is a source to beauty, significance, and pleasure; (2) others because they think money is a source of security.
Jesus addressed these 2 kinds of people with 2 examples. To those who find beauty and significance and pleasure in money, He said, “Be like the flowers . . . they don’t worry about beauty, because God makes them beautiful.” To those who find security in money, He said, “Be like the birds. They don’t worry about money, because God makes them secure.” In other words, God is a better way to both beauty and security than money is.
When Jesus has become your beauty (when knowing Him and pleasing Him has become your greatest delight) and when He has become your security (you know that He will take care of your future and all you need to do is obey Him today), then you will be free to follow Him wherever He tells you. You will no longer require nice things and creature comforts to enjoy life; you will no longer require huge sums of money in saving to feel secure. And as your heart is overwhelmed with the grace that God has shown you in the Gospel, you’ll find that there’s nothing you’d rather do with your money than help people find Jesus. That is what will give you the greatest pleasure, and that’s what you’ll consider to be the wisest and most secure investment.
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