The inconsistency of the American dream (Luke 16:9-13)

As we said yesterday, there’s no such thing as a “self-made man.”  My generation grew up hearing that each of us is special, a unique and beautiful snowflake.  So it’s no wonder that so many young people find their worldviews shattering on the rocks of today’s job market.

This attitude became the basis for a film called Fight Club, which took a harsh, R-rated look at the anger brewing within many young men who could not cash in on the American dream. In a pivotal scene, Brad Pitt’s character addresses a crowd of angry young men:

“[I see] an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy [stuff] we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very [ticked] off.”

The movie—while gritty—spoke powerfully to many in today’s rising generation.  Why has the American dream failed us?  And of course the simple answer is that life simply looks nothing like the movies or the beer commercials.

Stop and consider: have you ever felt angry, upset, or “cheated” because of an inability to get ahead in life?  Explain.

Jesus finishes the parable of the shrewd manager by offering a lesson on stewardship:

10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant 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.” (Luke 16:10-13)

Do you see what Jesus is saying?  The issue isn’t really financial—it’s doxological.  That is, it’s not about what you have but what you worship.  Serve money and you can never have enough.  You’ll always be angry at your inability to construct a better identity through fashion and finance.  But serve something greater—that is, serve God’s kingdom—well, then you have a recipe for lasting joy.

 

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