The great delusion
August 23, 2010
by Pastor Lee Hallstrom, Light of Christ Lutheran Church, Delano

Here’s a little prayer someone sent me by email:

“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray my BlackBerry to keep.

“I pray my stocks are on the rise, and that my analyst is wise.

“That all the wine I sip is white, and that my hot tub’s watertight.

“That racquetball won’t get too tough, and that all my sushi’s fresh enough.

“I pray my cordless phone still works, that my career won’t lose its perks.

“My microwave won’t radiate, my condo won’t depreciate.

“I pray my health club doesn’t close, and that my money market grows.

“If I go broke before I wake, I pray my Lexus they won’t take.”

We certainly live in a culture where it’s very easy to get caught up in acquiring more and more. Did you know that the average American shops six hours a week, while spending 40 minutes playing with their children, and that by age 20, on average, a young person will have seen 20 million commercials?

There is a powerful paradox in the American way of life today in how much we acquire and consume. We have and consume not just more than any other generation, but more (when we are talking about consumption) than all other generations in the history of the world combined. Yet, alongside of this, there is an all-time high in people feeling empty and searching for real meaning and purpose in their lives. I call this “the great delusion.”

I believe that “the great delusion” is supported by three notions: first, the more you have, the happier you will be; second, the more you have, the more content you will be; and third, the more you have, the more secure you will feel. All three of these notions are myths.

Studies have shown that authentic happiness actually shows an inverse proportion between more income (above a basic level of needs) and more happiness. When it comes to money and wealth, it’s like they feed on themselves – the more we have, the more we think we need, and then, no matter how much we have, it will never seem like enough.

The great delusion keeps us shooting for more and more, yet feeling less secure, satisfied, and happy. What’s the answer? It seems to me it lies in this question, “What is feeding my soul?”

Is it God? God’s unconditional love for me? Serving God and others? Prayer? Worship? God’s Word?

Stephen Covey put is so well when he said, “You cannot say ‘no’ in life (think of no as saying no to the great delusion) until there is a deeper ‘yes.’”

Is God the deeper “Yes” in our lives?

Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

May all joy be yours in believing!