|My house, circa 1916.|
It's the house I own and live in. This picture was taken almost 100 years ago. The house was built by my wife's great grandfather and handed down to his son and then to us.
Most people don't get houses just handed down to them. Most people, like us, would be ecstatic to receive a free 5-bedroom house with a 2-car garage and full basement.
Then again, most people in the world have never dreamed of living in a house of that size. Most people in the world have never dreamed of owning their own house or having their own bedroom. And a 2-car garage? That's like having a house for you car (both of them) so that's obviously beyond comprehension for most people in the world.
But here in America, most people probably wouldn't think our house is all that great. After all, it is nearly 100 years old. It needs new siding. The front steps are kind of crumbly. The gutters have gone from bright white to a grayish color over the years. Well, how about I show you what it looks like now?
|My house today.|
So there you go. Nothing special right? Yeah, it's pretty big and it's got some nice features but, compared to many houses in America - or in my own neighborhood, for that matter - it's pretty average.
At the beginning of this post I called this house my American Dream. That's because in a country and society where (nearly) everybody has a place to live and plenty of food to eat, our dreams can become rather extravagant.
I titled this post My (Christian) American Dream because even though I know what I have is a blessing from God, and not something I've earned or deserve, I still find myself dreaming of bigger and better things. Not too big, of course, or it might look bad. I might appear to be materialistic, even worldly.
So, no, I don't want a bigger house or a fancier house. I do, however, find myself longing to fix up my house to make it nicer. I want my family to be more comfortable in our home. I want to like what I see when I look at my house.
What makes me crave those things?
Why in the world do I think comfort is something I should strive after?
I've spent many, many hours and borrowed money to remodel most of the insides of my house. I BORROWED money to make my house look better and feel more comfortable!
And nobody said a word.
I never gave it a second thought. My family never offered any objection. My friends all delighted in the progress we made and the changes they saw taking place.
Now, before I go farther, I have to admit that remodeling work is something I thoroughly enjoy doing and would do just for the enjoyment of it, much like many people play golf or collect things. It's a hobby of mine. But, the bigger picture of my efforts was not about a hobby. It was about my (Christian) American Dream.
My (Christian) American Dream includes fixing up the rest of the rooms in our house, saving up to get myself a reliable car whenever mine breaks down, giving my kids gifts that will make them happy, going out to eat on occasion, figuring out how to put my kids through college and maybe even set some money aside to retire on someday.
Most probably think that's a pretty humble, down-to-earth set of goals. But that's just it. It's completely down-to-earth. It's so focused on the present and the short-term future that I forget about eternity.
There's not a line in my (Christian) American Dream budget for giving generously to those in need, or buying clothes for homeless people, or helping someone get the education they want. There's no time in my day to spend telling people about Jesus and how He changed my life and can change theirs too. There's no flexibility in my schedule to go help someone fix their gutters or move into a new home.
My life is so consumed by my humble, down-to-earth dreams that I can't even see the eternal things that happen every day.
I'm sick of it. I'm disgusted by it.
Let me make something clear: I am not against America. It is an amazing country and it's an incredible blessing to live here and enjoy the freedom that most of the world can only dream of. I am also not against the wealthy people in this country. I believe God blesses people in different ways and with different amounts, so I don't judge anyone for the money they have or will have someday.
Here's what I want to start standing against: Pride, selfishness, the pursuit of comfort, worrying about what other people think of me, apathy, short-term thinking, holding onto stuff that is not eternal.
What do you stand for/against?