My posts over the last few days might ring a note of pessimism. The opposite is actually the case. Let me explain.

Images I believe that God has a big dream for planet earth. He has revealed this dream in the incarnation of his son, Jesus Christ.

This dream is much bigger than our own personal comfort, political ambition, or any other single cause that we might embrace as Christians. It’s a dream where swords will really be turned into plowshares, where justice and compassion will really and truly subvert greed and violence. This dream is about a world where faith is stronger than fear, where hope looks into the heart of darkness and still sees light and where true love is freely given and received. God’s dream of bringing his kingdom to earth is the most hopeful, audacious, and holistic dream imaginable. The problem is simple to see: most Christians do not share the dream.

The reason this appears to be so is because Christians either delay the presence of Christ’s kingdom, by relegating it to the future alone. Or they have an over realized view of the present kingdom that equates it with human political and social events that are not properly related to the good news of the gospel. Their view of the kingdom is about a particular human ideology, not about the spiritual reality that resides “in” a person and thus in a community of persons who live transformed, Christ-shaped lives. In this case the truth does lie between two common extremes. But few have the faith to see the beauty and glory of the truth. It is not that this truth has been tried and found wanting, it is rather that most of us have never tried this great dream and thus conclude that it cannot work.

What if every person, every relationship, every system, everything living was to be restored? What if the trajectory of history is to prepare us for the consummation but giving us Spirit-directed movements of approximation that get us ready for the final act in the drama? What if our role in the drama, right now, really mattered? What if God was using you and me in a way that would shock us if we but saw it? The problem is in our vision. We lack it and most of us know it.

Towards this end I wonder what would happen if we imagined a neighborhood transformed by the gospel of the kingdom? It is happening, even if not in your neighborhood. These dreams are not my crazy, wild idea. These are the dreams of a God who has not given up on humanity, not for one second. Through the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus he is recreating the world; one person, one community, one people group at a time. In this alternative community greed, shame, pride, violence, and fear will be defeated by love in action.

What does this dream have to do with you? Your task, and mine, is to play a unique part in implementing this love story, especially in areas where our world, our city, and our neighborhood is truly hurting the most. Quite simply, we must become God’s agents of Christ’s reconciliation; to tangibly become a little colony of heaven coming down to earth. Read Ephesians and Colossians afresh. Ask if I am right? If I am then why continue to resist the dream of God?

And if you become serious about this collaborative effort for reconciliation, which is a task for the whole church in the whole world, then you and I must begin right where we live. Ask God about your community, your neighborhood. Begin to dream what would happen if Christ were made known in the relationships you have with your neighbors. You already pray this every time you say, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Now, pray it and mean it. Dream big! Dream something so big that unless God is in it then it will never happen.

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  1. Craig December 6, 2009 at 8:29 am

    And speaking of optimism, congratulations on the big win yesterday! Wow, did they make Fla look less than #1.

  2. Joe Schafer December 6, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Thank you. This post encouraged me a lot. This year, I am trying to take Advent seriously as a time of waiting for the arrival of Jesus. Not the arrival of Christmas Day, but the arrival of Jesus — past, present and future. He came in the flesh 2,000 years ago. He comes to us again and again throughout our lives. And he will return to the earth in power and glory. “The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins” (Isaiah 59:20). Come, Lord Jesus!

  3. James K December 8, 2009 at 5:33 am

    Thank you for the wonderful blog. This is one of the best Christmas messages I ever heard. I deeply appreciate God’s great hope and dream to save one and only Planet Earth.

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