We are all familiar with dream language. It could be the cultural “American Dream”, Martin Luther King’s iconic “I have a dream” speech, the inspirational cliché “Follow your dreams”, or the simple “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Dream language permeates the perspective and purpose with which we approach life. It is the lens through which I myself have gazed in order to grasp a sense of self and a plan designed to make the most of that self’s potential.
But dreaming big to pursue my wants and desires can have a way of possibly ignoring the greater human context in need of the dreams that truly bless. Much focus on this dream language, or perhaps God’s will for my life, can eventually churn dreaming into a self-obsession; what was initially meant to meet a deep need can fail or fall short, leading to a subsequent existential crisis, or, perhaps even riskier, the effort could succeed. I’m sitting in a cemetery as I write this, surrounded by marble samplings of humanity’s last reach for significance; I can’t help but wonder what their dreams were. A few yards away is an open grave awaiting the latest resident. It reminds me of a lecture a former literature professor gave, citing Egyptian mythology and the building of those grand tombstones, the pyramids, while asking his audience “What is worth doing?”
I’m not sure we are qualified to answer that; so who could be?
Who could be more of a visionary than God? Whether you believe Jesus was God or not, you have to admit His influence, thus His words and actions, deserve consideration. If Jesus were asked what his dream was, how would He have answered?
Since a first impression is a lasting impression, I believe it’s best to start at the beginning, especially since that’s where all dreams begin. In the Book of Matthew, our first glimpse of Jesus involves some initial steps, a baptism and a period of character testing. Then He moves to a busy area of Galilee and the visionary words He uses to characterize the beginning of his ministry are “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
As time and teaching unfolded, more detailed themes emerge but they were all rooted in the reality of this Heavenly reign about to make its debut in the realm of Earth. This was not a new idea; rooted in Israel’s ancient theology, God’s kingdom was the theme dotting their lines of history, crossing into their present reality while laying new foundations that would give form to the future, in which we now live. From ancient times to the current age, everything God has been doing, every calling, every covenant, every revelation has been structured within this kingdom framework.
The good news of the kingdom is much more than just a solution to sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus; it is a reality encompassing the whole of humanity. Making all things new, it is redeeming people, purposes, values, and culture in the submissiveness to its King. And much more than a personal relationship with Jesus, the kingdom is expressed and channeled through the Church, the community serving the King through devotion to the truth and each other. This good news is not just to be proclaimed; it is to be lived, together.
There’s nothing wrong with following a dream designed to benefit our lives or satisfy a desire; but understand that the needs of humanity are greater than what our dreams can encapsulate. God’s dream—purposed, proclaimed, purchased, and pursued in Jesus Christ—blesses the families of Earth with the reality of Heaven.
By telling us to seek first the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus invites us to dream in the transforming light of His reality, a reality being done on Earth as it is in Heaven. To repent, as Jesus initially commanded, simply means to get our direction right. In what direction are your dreams taking you? Do they reflect the reality in which Christ reigns as King? Do they invite you and others to participate in redeemed community? Do they facilitate the blessedness found in serving the King?
If your dreams are rooted in Christ’s reign, dream on, dream wisely, and follow through.