When I was younger, I had awesome dreams. In my “awakening” (a deeper sense of awareness I came to some years after I became a Christian), when I faced my first opportunities as a fledgling preacher, it seemed I had the world at my feet – no, not due to any sense of accomplishment or ability on my part, but because I believed the message I was bringing was “The” power – the walls of evil would crumble before it if I just stayed out-of-the-way and gave folks the unvarnished truth. I was literally amazed that anyone who heard it was able to resist it – or, even worse, would reject it and act contrary to it. As time (and my own experience) went on, I came to see that it was not only possible, it was likely! It took me some years, but I finally came down to earth.
Rather than an optimist, I became a realist – and one reason was that it became obvious that the gospel was not the only ingredient in the mix of life, or even in the kingdom. Practically, it only has a positive result in the hearts and lives of the willing – and far too often, for far too many reasons, men and women are not willing! Instead of envisioning instant growth, and a visibly deepening spirituality (which was my mindset in the first five or six moves I made from place to place), I learned to expect apathy, procrastination, complacency, cowardice and compromise wherever I went (I do not claim to be any better, because these are personal demons I also have to struggle with, and am no more satisfied with my own level of discipleship than that of others) – and to a lesser or greater extent, it was always the case. It was never true of all saints, and there were always some who were strong in the faith. “Normal” circumstances would find a congregation where the majority were largely bystanders, a part were willing to share in the worship and teaching aspects, and still fewer still actually so committed as to make the sacrifices and priority choices that fruitful discipleship produced. Usually such a mindset was so entrenched that efforts to stimulate enthusiasm and devotion collectively could be compared to turning a battleship around — any positive indicators were slow and incremental.
But, brethren, in spite of the steady stream of sputtering efforts (and facing up to the fact that I was not always as much help as I should have been) – I still have dreams! Today, I believe they are more realistic and likely, because they have a foundation of fact. The facts are:
- There is no long-range hope for the world – both reason and Scripture points to an end, and if current trends are significant, sooner rather than later.
- God’s will is served by both acceptance and rejection – He has as much interest (and has devoted significant time and planning) in determining who is not suited to heaven as He has in determining who will be.
- His ultimate goal is achieving the destiny of individuals, not churches –by its nature, the gospel is exclusive, and will eliminate the shallow, the indulgent, and the unmotivated, who seem to include an increasing part of the human population.
So, my dreams now are small. I wish to, and have tried to serve God faithfully in order to, contribute to those goals, but it basically is up to each one of us. For me, my dream is: “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:9
In the end, Paul’s main hope was for his personal future, and for others only insofar as they shared with him a common love of Christ “and His appearing”. (2 Timothy 4)
My “main” prayer to God is, “Thy will be done.” – Aubrey C. Belue
from “Know Your Bible” (a weekly email by the church of Christ which meets at 112 Roberts Avenue in Wise, Virginia)