Photo Friday: American Dreams

Greetings Earthlings,

How can you not love Switchfoot? While I shuffle the contents of my iPod rather frequently, there is almost never a time that Switchfoot isn't at least a part of the mix. Lately, I've been stuck on the album Oh Gravity... and in particular this song American Dream. 

I find myself going back and forth. In my heart of hearts, I want to live a simple life. It seems to make sense to me. I don't want to spend any time at all caught up in the trappings of consumeristic America, letting my wallet determine my worth. And so every once and a while, I'll drift into a living simply mode, where I try to set things aside and live as basic and down to earth as humanly possible. 

It usually lasts a week or so. 

Then I'm right back into it. Apple will release a new iPad that I absolutely must have. Old Navy will have a sale and I'll spend my money there rather than say at the Goodwill, where everyone wins in the end. I will obsess over how my car isn't good enough because it doesn't have leather seats or a navigational system (though, at this particular moment I'm happy the car runs without falling apart!). And no one will notice anything is wrong, nothing will feel wrong, because that's the culture we surround ourselves with. I'll blend in to the crowd, and no one will notice me. 

I worry about this. Jesus seemed to think that living simply was the best way to go: 

"Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts, no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or staff, for the worker is worth his keep." (Matthew 10:9-10)

In other words, working for the kingdom of God should be payment enough for us. It should be status symbol enough for us. Whereas the American Dream really ends up enslaving most of us (ask anyone who has over-maxed their credit cards), the Kingdom and the work we do for it frees us. It might seem so backwards to our American culture, but the less you worry about yourself, the more free you'll really end up being. 

This has implications for youth ministry too, you know? If our youth ministry is run by programs and toys and gadgets and stuff rather than by relationships and an honest yearning for the Spirit of God, then our kids will end up loving the world every bit as much as we teach them to. Please understand, this comes from a place of conviction, I'm thinking through our ministry as I'm typing this. But all the same, does your ministry feed the American Dream, or the Kingdom Come? 

I'm going to work on this the next few weeks. I hope you'll join me. I hope you'll join me in trying to put God first by putting myself last. I hope you'll join me in trying to advance the Kingdom by suppressing my desires. If his love is really better than wine, and the worker is really worth his keep, then won't we actually be better off in the long run? Won't we actually be free?