Abandoning the American Dream

“The faith that anyone could move from rags to riches—with enough guts and gumption, hard work and nose to the grindstone—was once at the core of the American Dream.”
–Robert Reich, American political economist

Let’s face it. People want nice things.

Nice houses.
Nice cars.
Nice clothes.
Nice watches.
Nice gadgets.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with having nice things. But let’s face another fact of life: people can spend their days in the pursuit of nice things. People desire—even crave—for upward mobility. People want to be successful in this world and move up the economic ladder one rung at a time. They want to live the life of their dreams—a life that consists of both comfort and luxury.

Upward mobility is naturally embedded into the idea of the “American Dream.” The American Dream states that there is equal opportunity for all those who work hard to live a life of comfort and prosperity. The quintessential portrait of the American Dream is a happy family with a big suburban house, two cars, and a pet dog. And many have given their lives over to the pursuit of this dream for themselves and their families.

But for those of us who follow the Lord Jesus Christ, we must consider an alternative. What if we don’t pursue upward mobility? What if we don’t pursue the American Dream? What if we abandoned it altogether in favor of accomplishing the things that greatly matter to God?

Things like loving God completely.
Things like serving others sacrificially.
Things like building God’s kingdom wholeheartedly.

What if we abandoned the American Dream? The pursuit of the American Dream and what it has to offer can often come into conflict with what God desires. The heavy pursuit of the American Dream will inevitably mean that we will be spending far less time and energy pursuing the things of God. And we know from reading Scripture that God dislikes competition. God—with His ways, His values, and His desires—should occupy the entirety of our hearts. And the American Dream threatens to squeeze God out of our lives in the pursuit of more worldly things. “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24, ESV). Perhaps it’s time for us to consider abandoning the American Dream—abandoning it in favor of wholeheartedly pursuing the things that greatly matter to God.

Do you find yourself pursuing the American Dream at the expense of pursuing God and His desires?

P.S. If you’re looking for a good book to read on this topic, I highly recommend Radical by David Platt.