The American Dream and the abundant life are not the same thing.

Jesus came that we may have life and have life abundantly. Unfortunately, Jesus’s words can be reduced to mean nothing much more than the American Dream or ‘Just living the dream.’ But what is this American Dream anyway? Well, thanks to Wiki we know that “the American Dream is a national ethos of the United States. It’s a set of ideals – democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity, and equality, in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, as well as an upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers.” That does sound downright abundant, doesn’t it? Minus one major factor. It’s missing Jesus.

Jesus is the key to abundance.

Everything within the American Dream is temporary and fleeting, so that’s definitely NOT how Jesus would define abundance. Jesus IS the source of abundant life because God IS abundance. In Christ we have peace with God, true joy, and purpose to our living, which are all immeasurable gifts. Yet we often measure abundance by the number of “likes” we get, our influence, friends, income, status, square footage, fame, etc. But none of these are ever abundant enough to fully satisfy us.

Beware of the trade.

A REALLY good passage of Scripture is Ephesians 5:14-15, which tells us “Wake up, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk, not as unwise but as wise.” Could the American Dream be lulling us into a comfortable sleep? Could we be trading the King of Peace for temporary prosperity? So many are seeking approval, acceptance, and acknowledgment in our see me-notice me-like me culture. We’re always on and always performing for approval, and this just doesn’t sound like an abundant life to me.

How to measure true abundance.

What if we measured abundance by our investment in others? To invest in others well would require that we are first invested in spending time with Jesus, learning His values, His ways, and how He loved others. Walt Henrichsen said in his devotional book Thoughts from the Diary of a Desperate Man that “Man is never more insecure than when he cannot create, measure, and control. The work of man can be created, measured, and controlled, but the work of God cannot. If you try, you will inevitably become abusive in your interpersonal relationships, trying to force people into meeting your expectations so that you can accomplish your objectives. The cause of Christ is best served when you allow God to create, measure, and control, and you give yourself, by faith, to the task of investing in the lives of others.”

Jesus came that we may have life in abundance, a kind of life that does not have a worldly measure. So, when you lie down to sleep, how do you evaluate the day? What do you reflect on in regret or in delight? God wants you to evaluate your life by its sacrifice – sitting with Him and learning from His Word, choosing kindness and forgiveness, doing good deeds, sharing of your faith, getting time with someone to help them know Jesus or grow in Jesus. That kind of investment IN Christ leads to great abundance THROUGH Christ. If you’re not living that way, then – Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!