I am one who openly and regularly makes it clear in my writing and speaking who believes that God continues to speak to His people. He speaks through the canon of scripture as well as in ways that are consistent with the ways the writers of scripture encourage us to expect God to speak to us regularly (AKA, the ‘charismata’ gifts – words of knowledge, words of wisdom, dreams, visions, prophesy, the “still and small voice of God” as Elijah experienced him). Probably the least common way I hear from God is through dreams at night. A couple of nights ago I had a dream that hit me like a proverbial 2 x 4 between the eyes.
That afternoon I had an extended conversation with a well-known leader in the US Church scene. This older man who walks in outstanding integrity had shared with me his frustrations over the unraveling of his ministry. What he has built with his blood, sweat, tears and literally millions of dollars he has raised and nearly all of his personal funds are now being destroyed by an unscrupulous Christian magazine that is highly visible.
I too have been damaged by this magazine. This group has disregarded trademarks and copyrights I hold on dozens of issues on various websites and produced high priced products for sale to undergird their budding company. That evening I did what I often do when I see injustice – I began to write an article.
What Dreams May Come
As I was writing I fell asleep. The dream kicked in. It was a long dream as dreams go. In the dream, I was aware God was putting the question to me, “Do you want to encourage believers to criticize other believers? Sure this is grossly unjust. Get over it. I am the one who takes care of these things. Jesus forgave Judas! Think this through before you write…” That’s the summary.
When I woke up, my laptop was still on. More importantly, I was aware that I needed to call the editor of the given magazine and ask him how I can best serve him in his efforts.
Question: How would the Church change if we began to simply believe the best about one another…
– instead of believing/anticipating/suspecting the worst about others under the umbrella of the Church…?
This is apparently what was happening in the early Church when the comment was made that is often quoted, “See how they love one another...”
That love that was picked up on was surely not so much in utterances of “I love you man” but in-
1. The above point – assuming the best versus the worst.
2. Doing acts of love on behalf of one another.
Jesus spoke continually about losing our lives on behalf of others and for the sake of the advance of the kingdom. Like George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life, we have been called to forget about clawing our way to the top. To live that way, it is necessary to believe that God is good, He is personal, and He is actively involved in our lives.
The Greater Good
When we give up the opportunity for personal gain in order for someone else to go forward beyond us – better yet – when we actively work on the behalf of others, we discover that Jesus was telling the truth… when we lose our lives, we find them.
For someone else to succeed that we are cheering on or we are encouraging forward – we are doing exactly what Jesus called us to. I for one hope I have heard my last overweight American professional pastor give his/her interpretation of Jesus was calling us to when he said we were to be ready to lose our lives.
I have heard several dozen pastors/teachers – all of them well-intentioned no doubt – tell their audiences that we need to be ready to give up our lives in the event that we are invaded by whoever in the event history changes in the future. Christianity could become a not so popular religion before long, blah blah.
This sort of malarkey is so embarrassing when it is broadcast it doesn’t deserve a comment except to say that those who say such things are living in a cave. They are making it super clear they have no connection with the mainstream culture whatsoever. These are the ones who are living entirely in the ghetto of the Church – yes there is a Church ghetto. To live all of one’s life apart from the reality of those who don’t know Jesus yet those are the ones who are to be pitied for their lack of realism.
Question 2: Then picture the overflow of that contagion spilling over into the mainstream at large.
Those who don’t know Jesus yet have built into their hearts the anticipation that Jesus’ people are the ones who will show the world how to love – how to truly love. It is incredibly confusing for people to look upon the Church world and see mostly anger, finger-pointing, territorial attitudes – the list goes on. We are incapable of producing love at any level for anyone – including any level of love for ourselves.
Step one: Call upon God. Confess our utter desperate situation. “God, we are up that well-known creek minus a paddle. Rescue us. We desire to look like you. Rescue us!”