Living in the Direction of God's Dream

Audio Currently Unavailable

Living in the direction of God's dreams for us. For some reason most of us have a difficult time keeping our eyes focused upon what God has dreamed we will be like. For some reason we have a difficult time between trying to do what we think God wants us to do and what we actually want to do. Most of us have lots of questions about God...and questions we would like for God to answer. That part of our nature that wants to ask God questions is best illustrated in that little book titled: Children's Letters To God. I'll give you just a couple or so to illustrate the point.

Dear God, thank you for the baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy. What went wrong? Signed Joyce. Dear God, my Grandpa says you were around when he was a little boy. How far back do you go, God? Signed Dennis. Dear God, instead of letting people die and having to make new ones why don't you just keep the ones you already have? Signed Tommy.

That does raise a very interesting question...a question about what we should be doing with life, if you will, before we die. Paul put this ever so delicately when he wrote to the Christians in Corinth: "Our outer nature is wasting away every day." There are things, in other words, that are beyond our control...things we cannot change...but Paul went on to say: "But our inner nature is being renewed every day." That is what God dreams will happen to each one of us, but it does not happen to everyone. Always there is this distinct difference between who we are and what with God's help we could become...the difference between what we do and what we could do with God's help.

I have grown to believe that our basic problem is in our attempts to be someone and to do something that is outside the realm of our individual potential...yet this never excuses us from doing what we are capable of doing or capable of living up to our potential. Recently, I read of a college which unveiled a memorial plaque in honor of one of its alumni. The young man so singled out had not produced any outstanding records during his college years. As an undergraduate, he had been a participant in many activities but he was never an officer of anything. For four years, in fact, he had gone out for football, but he never made the first string; he never played in any important game. In his class work he was a steady and dependable student, yet he never made a grade above a "B".

When the Vietnam war came, he served in a very normal capacity with a medical unit, quietly doing his job. Then one day he met his death out trying to help a wounded man under enemy fire. The mere presence of this young man had left an impression on some of his classmates and they made it possible for a tribute in his honor to be given to his alma mater. It is the words on the plaque that give the rich remembrance...the inscription read: He played for four years on the third string...but he never quit! What a powerful line: He played on the third string team but he never quit!

I can think of no single greater challenge and goal for those of us who are committed to Jesus Christ and to the mission ministry of Christ's Church than to do what we do and never quit. Throughout the whole history of the church, there have always been those who have faithfully served and never quit. God never quits and God is constantly helping us to grow and to change and to mature.

People in the day of Jesus were burdened and confused by the rules and ceremonies of religion and complications of hundreds and hundreds of commandments. And to all of this Jesus boiled it down to the essentials: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your strength...this is the first and great commandment," Jesus said, "and the second commandment is like the first, you shall love your neighbor as yourself!"

When you stop and think about it...God has put an unbelievable amount of trust in us and in the church...but God has also given us an unbelievable amount of wisdom and power. God knows that the dangers are greater today than ever before, but so are the opportunities. Granted the problems today are more complex than they have ever been, but we are more capable than ever before to solve problems. But because the cost of hate and violence and selfishness gets more expensive each day...the church...we who are Christians...can no longer afford to be silent.

Maybe that is our problem also. We have reached the point where we are deciding what we will believe about God and what we won't believe about God. We have reached the point where we have decided what we will do and what we won't do for we live with unrealized dreams. And we refuse to live in the direction of God's dreams for us!

For a day and a half ~ ten days ago I was asked to lead a retreat with thirty pastors, many of whom had grown cynical and disenchanted with the Presbyterian Church. After several hours of listening and raising questions...listening to their concerns and complaints, many of which bordered on bitterness and even anger at God...gingerly I asked the question: What is the greatest problem in the church today? They don't love Jesus any more...even in the church...because if they did they would not act the way they do! I don't believe I have ever heard anyone put it so bluntly...yet so accurately! People simply don't love Jesus any more...even in the church...because if they did they would not act the way they do!

At that point one of the pastors told the group of something he had experienced once while he was in Paris visiting the Cathedral...Notre Dame. A priest there told about a group of young men who had come to that cathedral years and years before. They were arrogant, high spirited and declared they were non-believers. And they decided to play a joke on the old priest there. One of them bet the others he could make a bogus confession of great sins and he could fool the priest. So he went in and down and began to tell some fantastic tales of all the bad things he had done for which he wanted to be forgiven. The priest was a wise old man and saw through it right away. He told the young man: "Okay, I can pronounce forgiveness for your sins, but there is one thing you have to do for absolution."

"What's that?", the young man asked. The old priest responded: "I want you to go up to the altar of this Cathedral, and I want you to go up to the crucifix, look up at Christ hanging on that cross. I want you to look up at him and say: 'All this you did for me but I don't give a damn about you.'" The arrogant young man left the old priest and told his companions what the priest had said he should do. So in order for him to collect the bet, they said he had to do it. Arrogantly the young man ran into the cathedral and went straight to the altar and looked up at it with Christ hanging on it...the suffering Christ...the loving Christ...and said: "All this you did for me but I don't give..." but he could not finish it. He looked up into the face of that Christ...who had suffered for him, who had died for him and he knew it...and something in him made him recognize that he did care. The priest who told that story then said to the group visiting the cathedral...Notre Dame..."I know that the story is true because I was that young man."

From time to time...we also need to do stop and try to look into the face of Jesus and remember what he did for us and then in response to remember what we are to do for him. This is the way we move in the direction of God's dreams for us. As Chardin put it: The world will belong tomorrow to those who brought it the great hope today...and that is where we must put all of our bringing hope to people today!

I believe there are at least two kinds of is a living church and the other is a loving church. There is a distinct difference between the two. Living churches are judged by their size, their host of activities, their financial strength...but loving churches are judged by what they do in Christ's name to help others...a loving church is a community that are drawn to this church because they sense we are a loving church, a church that shows the love of Jesus Christ in loving, but very practical ways!

Audio Currently Unavailable