I have a dream for my kids. I hope they grow up to be cheaters. Or maybe they can achieve new heights in manipulation and selfishness. Or maybe they will truly fulfill my dream and have explosive anger or life-controlling addictions! Obviously, these are NOT the dreams I have for my kids, nor is it the dream of any sane parent. Yet, why do so many of us live as if these are the dreams we have for ourselves?
I am preparing to lead a group at church through Chip Ingram's R12 material. Chip begins by connecting the idea that parents have dreams for their kids. Likewise, our Father in heaven has a dream for us. God's dream is not that we be cheaters, adulterers, gossips, manipulative, and self-focused. His dream is completely different...
God's dream is not primarily to make us happy. It is to make us holy! We are to be holy because God is holy (1 Peter 1:16). Jesus said in the "Sermon on the Mount" we are to be perfect (or complete) just as our Father in heaven is perfect (or complete). Holiness, more than happiness, is what God has for us. Consequently, when we surrender to this, there is great joy and happiness that comes, but happiness is a byproduct not the ultimate purpose.
One snapshot of God's dream for all people who believe in Christ as Lord and Savior is found in Titus:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
No where does it say God's forgiveness and reconciliation (salvation) or His patience is a license to sin. It says the opposite. It says our salvation trains us to reject sin and the passions of the world. It trains us to live here and now in a godly way (i.e. like God, holy and complete) as we wait for the hereafter when Christ appears again. This salvation, this forgiveness and reconciliation is only possible because Christ gave himself on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins.
God's dream for us is that we be in fellowship with Him forever. Our sin prevents this, but that's the point of the cross and tomb of Christ. It is to provide the way our sin can be forgiven. It provides the way we can be transformed into the holy people we need to be. It provides the promise of freedom and relationship with God forever.
Why do so many who label themselves as believers live outside of God's dream for them? Maybe it is because many only possess the label of Christian but not a true relationship with Christ. Maybe we only want Him to be our Savior, but not our Lord.
We come to Christ on His terms, not ours. It's all in, or not in at all. As Chip Ingram describes, it's like writing a check to Jesus for "All I am and all I have." When we surrender, then we see true change, true freedom from the dead-end patterns, and true life. Living the dream is best when it's God's dream.