Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The American Nightmare

"When success is equated with excess, the ambition for excess wrecks us." - Switchfoot (from "American Dream")

There are few things that annoy me, really few. In fact, I could probably number them on one hand. Materialism would be one. I refuse to sit on a high pedestal and claim that I don't fall under this American misconception, I do. And so does everyone else. However, I would like us to stop for one moment in our ever busy lives and think. Here's my question:

Why is that where material things are viewed most precious, Christ is subsequently viewed as nothing more than trash?

Odd question, I'm sure. But try and hear me out. America, the most "Christian" nation on the planet is also the most materialistic. And because of the latter truth, the former truth has essentially become false. Our nation's colors are red, white, blue...and green. And though I hate to admit it, green has become the most prevalent.
Spurgeon, one of my Christian heroes, once said, "You say, 'If I had a little more, I should be satisfied.' You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled." The problem is that we fall into a circular maze that never ends. We want more, we get more, and we want more. However, I have to believe that there is something more than having everything in this life, that the best things in life aren't things after all. Where is the answer?

Matthew 6:19-20 gives the solution to the American nightmare of materialism, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on the earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven..." What better answer can there be? How can we fall off this hamster wheel of excess and materialism? By valuing things of God more than the things of this world. I know the answer to Christ's question when He asked what the man who gains the world really profits. He profits nothing. The world will pass away, leaving that man destitute and empty in the next life. But the one who finds ultimate pleasure in the ultimate treasure, Jesus Christ, they are the ones who have profited everything!

All this to say, we've been duped into believing that success is excess, but this misconception in the end wrecks us. Christ is the only solution, the only answer. The American Dream is nothing more than a nightmare and Christ is the only treasure that can awaken us from it.


Anonymous said...

I really liked what Piper said..."Just because you have a six figure salary doesn't mean you have to live a six figure lifestyle". I know that Piper along with some others probably have huge salaries but they choose to use it for the glory of God and don't assume that they're entitled to a glamorous life of excess because of it.

Ashley said...

Piper is the very one who tipped me off in understanding that Christ is the ultimate treasure and solution to this human problem.

Anonymous said...

The idea that true success is determined by the size of one's pocketbook is dangerous because it puts us on a performance treadmill, where success is determined by how much we amass, who likes us and what we do. It essentially is a non-redemptive works salvation - it may not save you from hell as eternal conscious torment separated from God, but it'll save you from a functional hell of debt, housing, employment, loneliness, etc.

Ashley said...

That's great Douglas. I Never looked at it quite that way, but it's right on point. Thanks.