Materialism – The New American Dream
When I was young many people asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, or “What is your dream job?”. For most of us that was something like being a sports star, a rock star, or a superhero. As we get older the answers become a little more practical and become, a doctor, a lawyer, and usually still a rock star. These big dreams are fine and the ‘you can be whatever you want to be’ attitude is encouraging. However, these are usually symptoms of “The New American Dream”.
I sarcastically call this The New American Dream because it is truthfully materialism wrapped up in the idea of the American Dream. Now before I go on, there is good dreaming. Wishing to be something because you love what it is and not how much fame or fortune is tied to it. However, many young people do not start with a true love to pursue their big dreams but a materialistic desire. For some it wares off as they grow up, and for others it becomes worse as they look for happiness in everything they do not have.
Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 is a portrait of the king of Israel (most likely Solomon) who tried to gain as much enjoyment out of life as possible. He lives everyone’s dream by acquiring silver and gold, alcohol, servants, homes, achievements, vineyards and gardens, great possessions, all the entertainment he wanted, and much more. He writes how everything his eye wanted he would get. This may explain why Solomon had so many wives and concubines. In verse 9, the writer says that he had more than anyone ever recorded before him.
So the king literally had everything (including fame, power, education), and what did he find? Nothingness. He was left just as empty as before. In verse 10 the writer describes it as “vanity” or “chasing after the wind”. Essentially he realized he was in pursuit of nothing of value.
Similar to an alcoholic, materialism is an unending thirst for fulfillment. The alcoholic has to drink to feel “happy”. Yet it never solves his problem. They then need to consume more and do it more frequently. Yet this tends to make problems worse as they spend more money, destroy their body, and generally ruin their home life. Many alcoholics die because of their addiction in finding happiness. Although it may seem extreme, materialism can have many similar affects.
There was a time before my parents were saved when they were recently married and both full of materialism. They wanted the nicest brands, the new cars, and the big house. Their materialism led them into despair, depression, and great debt. By God’s mercy they both came to Christ within two weeks of one another, and God slowly removed their materialism as their search for happiness shifted from things to the Lord. Instead of finding fulfillment in stuff they began to be fully satisfied and happy in the Lord despite their financial situation and meager home. Today they are very blessed, but their material things are not where their joy comes from.
If materialism is something that has a hold in your life, surrender it to the Lord. Make sure “The American Dream” you are pursuing is not materialism cloaked to take advantage of you. It is only in the Lord that we can have true joy and happiness that never goes away.
Posted on April 30, 2014, in A little bit of Exegesis and tagged 2, Bible, Bible study, Brady, Bradyn, Ecclesiastes, Love of money, Materialism, Melser, New American Dream, Scripture, Stuff. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.