The commercial begins with a well dressed, average-looking American male smiling into the camera. He introduces himself and describes his ‘life.’ First he says he has a wonderful family, but before the ad is over you get the feeling that they are not as important to him as they should be.
The man says, “I live in a four bedroom house in a great neighborhood.” In the background there is a big house with a manicured lawn. “Like my car?” he asks. “It’s new.”
The next frame shows him swinging a golf club. “I even belong to the local golf club,” he says. Then you see him standing beside a grill. In the background, there is a pool and his family sitting around a picnic table.
“How do I do it?” he says. “I’m in debt up to my eyeballs I can barely pay my finance charges.”
The man rides across his perfect yard on his top-of-the-line mower. “Somebody help me,” he pleads with the same hollow smile plastered on his face. The commercial finishes with a pitch for refinancing so the guy can keep up his lifestyle.
At first, I laughed at the commercial, but the more I thought about it, the more disturbed I became. Unfortunately, it accurately describes what many Americans are living for. Although the American dream typically collapses under the weight of its own emptiness, most do not know the truth until it is too late. Even the Church does not seem to be immune from the allure of the world. Materialism has many people living for nothing while burning out in the process. The more stuff you get the less it satisfies. At least the person with very little still has the dream that if they obtain a lot of stuff, they will be happy.
Modern society has a warped sense of what will make someone happy. Recently, one of the leaders in my local church fellowship sold his big house with the swimming pool to downsize his life. He moved his family into a smaller house and even left his high salary job as president of a company.
This leader went backwards according to what the world says is the mark of success. But he was responding to the leading of the Holy Spirit. He took a part-time position overseeing the church’s missions program. Every time I see the man, his smile keeps getting bigger. And this is not the hollow smile that the guy in the commercial had. No, this man is smiling because he has discovered the joy that comes with following the dream that God placed on his heart.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so they can have life. I want them to have it in the fullest possible way.” (New International Reader’s Version)
Are you living the abundant life that God designed for you to live or the empty American dream?