So there I am watching in disbelief the craziness associated with the George Zimmerman trial when I see a report on the ticker below that a young, 31 year old male Hollywood actor pronounced dead after being found alone in a hotel room. Knowing NOTHING of this man, I commented to my nearby family members, “I bet it was drug-related.” Sadly, I found out later that I was right.

It’s not always easy to be right. Though I’ve seen this same scenario played out both personally and professionally, it is still sad and this recent newsworthy tragedy is no different. Yet another wealthy, superbly talented, handsome, “successful,” achieved-the-American-dream Hollywood actor is dead due to a drug and alcohol overdose. Specifically, heroin mixed with alcohol leads to a tragic ending for this young man and his remaining loved ones.

I am not a tv watcher unless it’s sports and occasionally news so I don’t think I’ve ever seen an episode of “Glee.” But haven’t we heard this story before? Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, John Belushi, many actors from Saturday Night Live, and many other stars have died due to some form of drug-related incident. It only takes one overdose to end a life.

Which Hollywood actor or actress will be next? Ironic that his show was “Glee” yet was he satisfied and happy about his life? It seems he wanted drugs and alcohol to add excitement to it. I don’t know that for sure but drug users seek pleasure and/or avoid pain and when you have it “all” according to the American dream, why do you need more? What more is there to seek if you have achieved the so-called American dream?

Are any of us surprised that the American dream is really more of a nightmare? Here’s the American dream checklist:

Wealthy? Check.

Outwardly, seemingly happy? Check.

Famous? Check.

Handsome/beautiful? Check.

Powerful? Check.

Admired? Check.

Hit tv show? Check.

Talented? Check, check. (double check mark)

And you could add more temporal pleasures to this list. Cory Monteith possessed all the world had to offer. Yet it wasn’t enough. Why?

Well, I’m glad you asked because I can tell you why. God designed us to live for Him, not ourselves. God designed us to worship Him and Him alone. In those moments when we seek temporary, sinful pleasures, we are worshipping something other than God: ourselves and our own idols. Not an easy thing to say but it is the truth whether we want to believe it or not. God didn’t design us to be satisfied with the things of this world but only to be satisfied in Him alone. When we look for ultimate satisfaction in other things, other people, or even ourselves, we will be miserable though we might be able to hide it for a little while.

The world calls it “addiction” and makes it a medical problem likened to a “disease” but that leaves God, the gospel, and worship out of it. The Bible calls this same problem “drunkenness” and “idolatry” rooted in pride and foolishness. Which one is true? They both cannot be true though many try to marry them and mix them together. The truth is that they are like oil and water: they don’t mix (Col. 2:8). The world and the Word believe different foundational truths about addiction which is why people like Cory and others continue to check themselves into rehab and treatment centers for addiction and leave no better than when they were admitted. There is no way to change the heart and its desires apart from the work of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word of truth. The secular world’s treatment for drugs and alcohol is not working that industry needs an overhaul. Or maybe the church should step up and begin calling it “sin” once again so that the Gospel which is good news can be presented once again as related to this problem since Jesus is the only solution.

For the Christian, let this tragedy of Cory Monteith drive you to the cross. Let it motivate to cry out to a lost and dying world that there really is only one answer and it is found in a relationship with a loving and truthful God. The world is not as “happy” as you might think they are! Don’t be fooled by their so-called glee.

In His Word, we find the real American dream checklist that can only be found in a relationship with Christ:

Not Wealthy but Poor? Check. Matthew 5:3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” We need to recognize our weakness and our sinfulness apart from Christ.

Unhappy with the things of this world? Check. Matt. 5:4: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” We need to be broken about our sinful state.

Unknown not famous? Check. Matthew 5:5: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

Not particularly handsome/beautiful? Check. Matt. 5:6: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Beauty is fleeting but righteousness lasts forever. For women in particular, Proverbs 31:30 warns: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

Not powerful but weak? Check. Matt. 5:7: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Be an agent of God’s mercy to others and find satisfaction in service.

Not admired or loved by people? Check. Matt. 5:8: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Seek to love God with your whole heart and not the approval of mankind. God is pleased with His children and loves it when they obey His Word.

No hit tv show? Check. Matt. 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Who needs a top-rated tv show when you can be used by God to bring everlasting peace into people’s lives?

Not talented in a way the world respects? Check. Matt. 5:10: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” and Matt. 5:11: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.”

Jesus then commands those listening to this sermon in Matthew 5:12: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Maybe the name-it-and-claim-it prosperity preachers should read and teach this sermon of Jesus. It’s not a false so-called Christian version of the American dream message where we hear Jeremiah 29:11 misquoted and misapplied as everyone’s life verse. It’s not the American dream where we all pray Jabez’s prayer for God to increase our territory so we can consume more stuff. Instead, Jesus’ message was radically different than what we hear people say will make us happy. True satisfaction and true joy are only found in Christ and in a thriving, vibrant relationship with Him. Anything else is simply an idol meant to please self but ultimately leads to despair and often death.

Am I saddened at this news? Yes. Am I more motivated to share the truth of God’s Word under the loving power of the Holy Spirit? Yes. Is it a David vs. Goliath type of battle to speak the truth in love? Yes. But we know who won that battle!!!

Be bold. Share your faith. Show the Word of God in action in your life.

Someone’s eternal life depends upon it.

-Mark (thankful that God opened my eyes to find true satisfaction in Him because I would have ended up just like Cory Monteith had God not intervened in my life)

For more on the Cory Monteith tragedy, go to this link: