Some of us dream about having the so-called American Dream – maybe some of you are already living the A-Dream. Others may be dreaming about having the dream career and being on top of the ladder in the cooperative world. Maybe your dream is to have grandchildren, to see your own children prosper, to get that million dollar job. Some people dream about becoming popular in their industry of choice, collecting page followers like nothing else. Maybe you dream about the day that you can buy your own house, or to travel the world before turning 30. Or perhaps your wedding day is your ultimate goal in life.
But what if all of your life-long dreams disappear overnight?
What dreams remain then?
What is the so-called American Dream?
For some, it is the dream of freedom and equality, for others it is the dream of a fulfilled life or even the dream of fame and wealth.
It’s all about that nice house, the nice car and the nice pay check. It’s waking up in the morning and going to a job you love, then coming home to a family you can provide for without worry. It is comfort, security, betterment and enjoyment – with the mind-set that you can have it all because you got up, you worked hard, and you made it happen.
American or not, ever since we were children, we were taught “You can be anything you want to be when you grow up. Work hard and do good in school and the world is yours…”
The other day, I read an article on a wealthy married celebrity couple, living a very rich and glamorous life, climbing the ladder of success very fast and in the article, they were referred to as the couple who are ‘having it all’.
Having it all in the world?
What we have to understand is that is it no sin to be wealthy or having a lot of money, but chasing and idolizing it is.
Luke 16 verse 13 says: No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Let us have a look at the following story in the Bible in Matthew 19:
16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Jesus is now teaching that works can have eternal life (for He will show the man in Matt. 21:22 how far short he falls of keeping His commandments.) Scripture in Ephesians 2:8-10 clearly affirms that salvation is a gift of God’s grace received through faith, and not by works:
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (ESV)
The young man said to Jesus that he has kept all the commandments, and he asked what else he could be lacking. Now, Jesus knows this man’s wealth has become his means to personal identity, power and a sense of meaning in life – that it has become his idolatrous god in his life. Thus, Jesus wanted to turn this man from focusing on external conformity (keeping the commandments) to examining his heart. So then Jesus calls him to give EVERYTHING away, exchanging the god of wealth for the eternal treasure that is found in following Jesus as the one true God.
And the, in verse 22: The man went away sorrowful.
So even though the man wants eternal life, he cannot bring himself to cease worshiping the ruling force in his life, his great possessions and life of wealth.
What this passage means to me, is that even though this young man kept all the commandments, it was not enough, for Jesus said that to have eternal life, you must lose your life, take up your cross and follow Him. This man was not willing to give up His worldly life, and because this man had so many earthly treasures, the decision was too hard for Him. That is why it is difficult to be a Christian AND to be wealthy in the world.
Furthermore, we read Jesus’ response to this in Matthew 19:
23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said,
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Wealth fools a person into thinking he/she is self-sufficient apart from God. Now, just how difficult did Jesus say it is for a rich person to enter Heaven? Think about it; a camel is the largest animal in Palestine, and a needle is the smallest opening in a home…
So clearly this is impossible for men, but Jesus said that with God, all things are possible. AND, if this happens, if the wealthy and the rich give up their life to follow Jesus, they will receive in hundredfold (verse 29). Thus, those who have given up the god of their lives to follow Jesus will receive abundant award. And what is this reward?
Eternal life (as an inheritance, not as an earned reward).
What do you dream about? What is your biggest dream in life?
Is it even remotely considering God?
Do you dream about having your next break-through, getting that promotion, having that beach body, spending hours every day at the gym, being the ‘fit mommy’, the ‘rich daddy’, the wealthy family? Do you really think God cares about any of these things?
God says our dreams and everything that we do, should be ALL for Him, and that we should love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
Have you ever thought about this; that maybe if God makes your own dreams come true, you would have the whole world at your feet; the cars, the jobs, the boyfriend or girlfriends, the money, the awards, the wealth, the fame… but you see, God says that if you love the things of the world, the love of the Father is not in you.
Do you love this world? Do you love the things of this world?
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” — Matthew 6:19
I am constantly asking God to direct me in His will and purpose and path for my life, and not to rely on my own flesh and my worldly dreams. If I can become what He wants me to be, to bare the fruit of the Spirit and to be more transformed to the image of Christ, then His overflowing joy and peace will be much more of worth than all the treasures of this world.
Mark 8:36 (ESV): 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit (loses) his soul?
In worldly terms, I don’t have anything to show. I have absolutely nothing to show from this world, but I have learned to rejoice in having nothing but Jesus.
I have learned to surrender my life to Him and for His dreams for my life, for they are far better than mine.
Because you see, when His plans prevails for my life, when I become more like Christ every day, His name is worshiped and He is being glorified.
Looking back over my life, I am so grateful that God did not make my own dreams for my life come true.
Yesterday I was walking on my usual hiking path late the afternoon and again I was abundantly grateful for all the blessings in my life. Because there I was, walking on the side walk of a lovely and safe living area, feeling the cool breeze, seeing the beautiful colors of the sunset and experiencing His overwhelming grace in my life. And I thought to myself; ‘Who am I, that He would be so good to me?’
In the middle of thousands of people around me who are living in a lost world of their own, there I was, walking my path of life with God. I had such an indescribable joy and peace in knowing that even though have nothing, I have everything.
And all I could do in that moment, was to lift up my hands in sing:
“Grace that flows like a river, washing over me
Thank You Jesus, you set me free,
Christ my Savior, you rescued me
You’ve given me life, you’ve opened my eyes
You’ve entered my heart, you’ve set me apart
I love You Lord”.