The American Dream

We’ve all been force-fed the idea of “The American Dream” since we were little: Mom and Dad struggled to pay the bills and buy a nicer car or house. We’ve been fed it in school as we’re taught to get a career to pay the bills. Even in church we’re taught that we can live the American dream and just witness to those people that happen to coexist with us inside that nice, cozy world. We’re all taught that “the purpose of a man is to love a woman, and the purpose of a woman is to love a man.” We see the commercials with a happy couple in their middle class American home in the middle of the country, with their three kids playing peacefully in the lawn and two new cars in the garage, with the family dog bringing the newspaper to them as they recline on the front porch.

However, I think we all know that things never work out this way. This isn’t to say that there aren’t any happy families in America, but I don’t think anyone has ever fully lived out that American dream and been happy doing it. The truth is that the source of happiness for all of the content people I know isn’t the fulfillment of their American dream.

So why is it that we all strive for this euphoric life, but never quite get there? I’m not really sure. It’s woven into the fibers of all Americans and mankind in general. A good American will do well in high school, go to college, meet the right guy or girl, get a job, marry that guy or girl, settle into a house, have a few kids, work hard, support their kids as they go through the beginning phases of the same cycle, retire and die happy. This never happens though. A divorce messes things up; a child rebels and doesn’t end up doing anything with their life; someone in the family dies young; someone in the family loses their job. Something always goes wrong, and it doesn’t take much to topple this blissful, fictional thing we know as the American dream.

So, we all know that life can be tough and things come along that aren’t easy. That’s not my point. I’m asking if this is the way we should be living at all? Do you think God buys into the American dream like we do? Are we making ourselves available for God to use by living the American dream? If not, then how are we to live our lives? To tell you the truth, I don’t know.

However, when I look at Jesus’ life, it looks nothing like the ideal life that many of us are striving for. He lived the normal life for 30 years and then abandoned everything to roam around teaching, healing and just barely getting by. I doubt He was living as comfortably as He was when he lived in Nazareth as a carpenter. He never married or really became too attached to any kind of commitment in life, and, as far as friends, He only stayed close to 12 rejects who followed Him around and didn’t even understand what He was really talking about until after He died.

When I look at Jesus’ life, I see that in His time of ministry, His life was nothing like our American dream. We’ve all been promised that we will be able to live a life full of power that exceeds even that of Jesus’ here on earth. However, I don’t think that we will see that living inside our nice bubble of the comfortable life.

Am I suggesting that we all quit our jobs and roam around teaching the good news and recruiting 12 people to help us? Not at all. What I am suggesting is that we don’t limit ourselves to a lifestyle that has little to do with God’s will. When making life decisions, we shouldn’t consider the American dream at all. Should I go to college? Should I buy that house? Should I marry this person? Should I take this job? The answers to all of these questions lie not in a preset American lifestyle, but in Jesus Christ. Does He want you to go to college, buy that house, marry that person or take that job? That’s what we should be longing to know.

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Will it be easy? Of course not! No one will really understand why you’ve made some of the choices you have and you will doubtlessly be persecuted, but so was Jesus. It all comes down to what you’re living for: your own comfort or God’s will? Jesus was living for God’s will and ended up dying for it. But what amazing peace can be found in a life following God’s will in spite of the disdain of the world. At the end of time, when you stand before your Father, you may very well hear Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

[Jason Bachman is a music student in college and loves playing any kind of music and over-analyzing everything.]

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