Thursday, August 11, 2011

The End Of The "American Dream"? Amen!

If surveyed I wonder how many of us would say we were content with our lives? It's a funny word, contentment: the state of being where one is satisfied with what one is or has, not wanting anything else.* According to that are we ever content?

One of the things that drives this world is the dissatisfaction of people with what that are and have. We always want something better, whether it is for us or our children. We have so much innovation in the world because we always what something better. We have a cell phone but we want the newest one, with all the gadgets. We have a good computer but we are looking forward to upgrading. We have a good TV but we are looking forward to the day when we can afford the 52".

At one time we were trained to start small but dream big. We would start with a small house but we knew that our goal was to keep earning money until we could sell and get a larger one. We may have to go through five houses to get there but that was our goal.

We would start off in a a low position in our company and our life goal was to work our way up as far as we could go. It's like that in the military. A solder starts off at the lowest rank put with time, training, courses and obedience he can move up through those ranks. With each higher rank comes more responsibility and more money. It's also how video games are designed as we move from level to level, gaining experience, abilities and points.

Do I dare say that it is this kind of attitude and outlook on life that has got us in the crazy mess we are in now? Our desire for more and better has opened the door to a certain level of greed that is fed upon by the many systems that have been built to satisfy our constant longing. We are so far in debt that most of us will be passing this debt on as our children's inheritance instead of the non-existent savings we are suppose to have. Way back in 2005 Canadians owed $1.16 for every dollar earned; Americans owed $1.24 for every dollar. The average household in the United States owes just under $10,000 on the credit card. In Canada, 30 million people owe 1.3 trillion dollars.** That is a lot of debt. Not so wise. Not so smart. Not so contented. It is this lack of contentment that has gotten the world in the bind we are facing right now, as people who want to make money without earning it, play the stock market, panic, and pretty well topple countries on rumours and speculation.. What a crazy system we have built for ourselves, all based on the need to have something better or something more than we currently possess.

As followers of Jesus we are not suppose to be caught up in this craziness. Aside from Jesus' teachings and the example that he gave us, we also have received further instruction:

But godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6)

What does this mean exactly? We can understand godliness, having the character of our Father, but how do we show contentment in our lives? Perhaps it is best defined by the attitude that follows this statement to Timothy by the apostle Paul. He continues:

For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. (1 Timothy 6:7)

This use to be something I often heard from the older, wiser generation. Now seniors' debt has risen by 89% and only 3% of seniors are totally debt free.*** It is an attitude that does not bode well for the Christian who is suppose to be satisfied with the provision of our Father. It is sort of like telling Dad that he is not a good provider and we need to find our own way to provide for our needs. When's the last time you truly felt that God met your need or are you praising him for the credit card companies that are living off of the interest of your greed?

But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. (1 Timothy 6:8)

How far short do we fall from hitting that mark? Is that even a concept that we are aware of? From what I can see Christians are some of the greatest proponents of using credit to receive the "blessings" of God. People literally have no idea how to survive without credit. They could never imagine their life being reduced to the contentment of food and clothing. In fact, many are willing to sacrifice the food so they can afford the other stuff. It's not that our Father is not providing, but instead it is a matter of us using his provision in inappropriate ways. We are misappropriating his provision. Instead of using that provision for its intended purpose, we use it for our wants.

People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. (1 Timothy 6:9)

Ruin and destruction; is that not what we are witnessing today? Perhaps it won't happen this week but we, our children and our countries are heading toward that cliff and no one seems strong enough to resist the temptation and make the hard choices. Somewhere, somehow we have missed the message:

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:10)

Most followers of Jesus will tell you that they live by faith but that's because the vast majority of people haven't a clue what faith is. They mistake belief for faith but faith is blind trust in every promise of God. The credit card statements we receive every month is a strong indictment against us. So, just as Scripture tells us , people are starting to find themselves pierced by many griefs and it is only going to get worse. We have to get our hearts and minds off of the things of this earth and get them back on the things above. We need a purging of these temptations, a cleansing and a revival back to godliness with contentment. We have to get God's values back in place and we need to turn our greed back to generosity. We need to cut up those credit cards and instead drop to our knees in repentance and then dependence. It's time to recognize the root source of the "American dream" and instead grab hold of the inheritance of our Father. Please God, help us, guide us and strengthen to make wise decisions today.


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