Summary: Chasing the American Dream has given most of us nightmares. We must change our lifestyles and our stewardship in order to experience the joy of the abundant life.
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 "Dreams and Nightmares"
Dreams are powerful forces in our lives. They have the ability to mold and shape our lives, and in a very real sense they can determine or destiny. We encourage out children to dream, because we innately understand the driving force that dreams possess. (Later we may need to intervene, as parents, and suggest dreams with marketable skills). Most likely we have met people who have no dreams. They are like rudderless ships guided only by the chaotic wind and waves of life.
We have dreams for ourselves. The dreams of men may start out as firefighters and police officers, and then transform into NFL quarterbacks, astronauts, or dot com CEO's. In our dreams we see ourselves as heroes and conquerors. Perhaps there are a few girls who dream of being firefighters or basketball players, I understand, though, that most often the dreams center around love, relationships and nurturing. There is a desire to have an impact on the lives of other people.
Jesus has dreams for us, his people, also. His dream is that we might have life and have it abundantly. Jesus calls us to live out the reality of that dream by denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following him.
Examining ourselves, and looking around at others, it soon becomes apparent that we have sold out on our dreams. Few of us are heroes, care-givers extraordinaire, or even abundantly living disciples of Jesus Christ.
Our gospel lesson for today sheds some light on our situation. In the parable of the sower, the emphasis is on the abundant generosity of God. God is like a crazy farmer who throws the seeds of his love and grace all around his field. A sub-theme of the parable is how we receive and respond to God's love and grace. Sometimes the hardness of our hearts and other areas of our being prevent God's love and grace from fully taking root in our lives. The result is a stunted experience of life, which allows it to be only adequate, and minimized dreams. The real kicker, to me, is the weeds--the cares of the world and the lure of wealth--that choke the life and dreams out of us.
Does this sound like your life--weedy and struggling to survive?
• Do you live each day overwhelmed by God's grace, and amazed at God's steadfast love and unconditional forgiveness, or just struggle to survive?
• Do you complain more about life's unfairness, or praise more for life's goodness?
• Do you only work in order to get a paycheck, or do you work to use your talents and abilities in serving The Lord?
• Do you struggle to make ends meet, or are you able to use your abundance for others.
The questions could continue, but you get the idea. Henry David Thoreau writes, "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them." Does that describe you?
We can blame God. If God would only give us more then we would be happy, content and able to fulfill our dreams. If we are honest with ourselves, the problem is not with God, but with us.
Most of us have a severe case of "affluenza." Affluenza is a constant need for more and bigger and better stuff--as well as the effect that this need has on us. We always need more, and we are never satisfied and content. A recent example of this is the Iphone 5. Millions of people waited in line to buy the new phone even though their current phone worked just fine. They had to have the latest. We try to fill up the emptiness of our lives with things. Affluenza causes us to believe that God is a god of scarcity rather than abundance because God is never providing us with enough.
Our affluenza leads to a second disease--credit-itis. We are in over our heads with debt. If we are an average American, We struggle to make the payments on three or more credit cards and have a credit card debt of $15,956.00. We may want to be more generous, support the mission of Desert Streams more, or help the homeless, hungry, or abused, but we can't because we have so much debt.
Are you ready to make a change, or are you satisfied with the status quo? Do you want to recapture your dreams, and live that abundant life that Jesus made possible for us through his death and resurrection?
Jesus is truly giving us a higher calling--a calling to simplicity, faithfulness and generosity. To live out that calling calls for a change in our lives.
The first step in change is confession. We need to confess that we have previously decided to sacrifice all noble and truly human aspirations at the alars of comfort, convenience, safety, and pleasure." Our actions have not honored God and they have limited our ability to live as disciples of Jesus Christ.