daydreamers.

12 Apr
All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds awake to find that it was vanity; But the dreamers of day are dangerous men, that they may act their dreams with open eyes to make it possible.
–T. E. Lawrence 

Our world needs daydreamers daring to dream dangerously.

The table of history is seasoned with men and women who have dared to dream of a world better than this; who have been emboldened by their visions to live life defiantly in the face of the status quo and have courage enough to ask an Almighty God to change His creation through them.  Adding much needed and exquisite God-flavor to their surroundings, they have brought vivid color to a world of dull and dingy black and white and stirred the imaginations of those audacious enough to follow in their footsteps– encouraging those who come afterwards to take a hold of hope and visualize a world better than the one we live in. 

I’m inspired by each of them.  I want to dare to dream dangerously. 

Dreamers, from Walt Disney to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., from Rev. Billy Graham to Mother Teresa, have quite literally changed the world by envisioning a state of affairs better than before.  The impression they have left on countless millions–their global emotional and spiritual  footprint, if you will–is immeasurable.  Yet each of them set out not to stroll onto the stage of international superstardom or sainthood, but simply to right what was wrong in the world in which they lived.  We need today such men and women who have not just familiar vision and foresight but that possess a courage, conviction, and passion to engage the injustices of our present society. 

This generation longs for a sense of belonging; it values authenticity, transparency and humility; it emphasises praxis over dogma, it values deeds over creeds; it admires kingdom thinkers rather than empire builders; it finds meaning in the uncertain valleys of ambiguity, paradox, metaphor, mystery, and artistic creativity; it expects and even demands meaningful engagement with those who strive to lead them; it views the Bible as the story of God’s redemptive purpose rather than the repository of propositional truth. 

That’s this generation.  And it’s waiting for you to lead. 

It’s waiting for you to dream.

I’ve committed myself to daring to dream dangerously.  I am convinced that as I do so, not only will my life change, but the lives of those around me will as well. As I influence the relationships in the arena of my existence, I am convinced that we can collectively change the world.  I might be crazy.  I might be idealistic.  I might be a radical.  I might even be a bit of a biblical heretic

But I’m daring to dream dangerously. 

I dream that God can and will move in, through, and around us.  I dream that He can and will reform His Church.  I dream that He can and will redeem all of creation unto Himself. 

I dream of Heaven.  On Earth. 

I dream that a community of WayWard Followers can and will usher in the Kingdom of God by running hard after Jesus Christ.  I dream of a day when those who claim to follow Him are defined not by their religious codes and creeds but by their conduct and love one for each other and Others.  I dream of a day when the chief purpose of our being is to meet the needs of those around us, thus honoring the One who created life.  I dream of a day when the Church has been restored to comfortably and confidently fulfill her role as the Bride of Jesus Christ.  I dream of Christ followers living in a supernatural, divine unity that transcends our human understanding and tendency toward division, that we would be one just as the Father and the Son are One–that in this unity we might be found complete and made whole as Jesus prayed in John 17.  I dream that we may live out the principles of Kingdom Living found in Jesus’s sermon on the mount and in the end of Acts chapter 2

I dream that this will happen in my world. In my day.

In this generation.

I dream that we can and will live out the abundant life Christ has in store for us–to love God and love Others above all else, and that in every decision we make and every action we take; in every conversation we have, this divine love would shine forth.  I dream that we can and will fulfill our calling to bring hope to the afflicted; to mend the brokenhearted; to proclaim freedom to the captives and liberty to those who are held in chains; to comfort those who are in mourning; to feed the hungry and to clothe the naked; to be a beacon of hope and light in a world afflicted with darkness and despair. 

In the words of a magnificent man who dared to dream dangerously whom I regretfully never had the opportunity to meet, 

We are not here for ourselves alone, but as necessary fragments of divine love, working together to rebuild lives and communities.  I am convinced that we are here to do something, to extend ourselves for the Kingdom.
–J. Andrew Cole, RISE Founder 

Heaven. On Earth. You must think I’m idealistic.  Radical.  Crazy.  A dreamer. 

I’m proudly all of those things.  Many others are as well.  To borrow a few words from a well-known book entitled, The Irresistible Revolution authored by a fellow radically idealistic dreamer, Shane Claiborne: 

I used to think that those of us who hope for things we cannot see and who believe that the world can be different than it is were the crazy ones.  We are usually called that by people who spend their lives trying to convince everyone that the crazy things they do actually make sense.  Now more and more people are starting to imagine that maybe another world is possible and necessary and actually quite imaginable.  I’m starting to wonder if, actually, we have gone sane in a mad world.  In a world of smart bombs and military intelligence, we need more fools, holy fools who insist that the folly of the cross is wiser than any human power.  And the world may call us crazy.

The good humored teacher and street-corner prophet Peter Maurin, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, put it this way: “If we are crazy, then it is because we refuse to be crazy in the same way that the world has gone crazy.”  What’s crazy is a matter of perspective.  After all, what’s crazier: one person owning the same amount of money as the combined economies of twenty-three countries, or suggesting that if we shared, there would be enough for everyone?  What is crazier: spending billions of dollars on a defense shield, or suggesting that we share our billions of dollars so that we don’t need a defense shield?  What is crazier: maintaining arms contracts with 154 countries while asking the world to disarm its weapons of mass destruction, or suggesting that we lead the world in disarmament by refusing to deal weapons with over half of the world and by emptying the world’s largest stockpile here at home?  What’s crazy is that the US, less than 6 percent of the world’s population, consumes nearly half of the world’s resources, and that the average American consumes as much as 520 Ethiopians do, while obesity is declared a “national health crisis.”  Someday war and poverty will be crazy, and we will wonder how the world allowed such things to exist.  Some of us have just caught a glimpse of the beauty of the promised land, and it is so dazzling that our eyes are forever fixed on it, never to look back at the ways of the old empire again.

…It seems to me that God could surround us with elders as we bring new energy into an aging body, but it will take tremendous courage from old folks to dream new dreams and allow a new generation to make their own mistakes.  And it will take great humility from the new generation of the church to listen to the wisdom of our elders and know that we can learn from others’ mistakes.

If you have the gift of frustration and the deep sense that the world is a mess, thank God for that; not everyone has that gift of vision.  It also means that you have a responsibility to lead us in new ways.  Recognizing that something is wrong is the first step toward changing the world.  So for those of us who have nearly given up on the church, may we take comfort in the words of St. Augustine: “The Church is a whore, but she’s my mother.”

Maybe we are a little crazy.  After all, we believe in things we don’t see.  The Scriptures say that faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1).  We believe poverty can end even though it is all around us.  We believe in peace even though we hear only rumors of wars.  And since we are people of expectation, we are so convinced that another world is coming that we start living as if it were already here.  As prominent evangelical activist Jim Wallis says, “We believe despite the evidence…and watch the evidence change.”  So may we begin living as if poverty were over, and we will see it come to pass.  May we begin beating our swords into plowshares now, and the kindgom will begin to be not simply something we hope for when we die but something we see on earth as it is in heaven, the kingdom that is among us and within us.

I pray that we will have the integrity of the early church, which, in the same breath that it denounced their empire in Rome, was able to invite people into the Way–little communities scattered throughout the empire…may we spend our lives making the Jesus way of life accessible to people.  The world is thirsty.  All creation is groaning.  Christianity as it is has not satisfied the souls of those who hunger for another way of life.

One friend was asked by a skeptic, “You are all just a little group of radical idealists.  What makes you actually think you can change the world?”  And she said, “Sir, if you will take a closer look at history you will see…that’s the only way it has ever been done.”

Our world needs daydreamers daring to dream dangerously.

And it’s waiting for you to dream.

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13 Responses to “daydreamers.”

  1. Ty Paluska April 13, 2010 at 1:22 PM #

    that’s good news

  2. Christopher Godau April 13, 2010 at 6:33 PM #

    I think that we would be wise to remember our roots.

    Why did the founding fathers of this country risk their lives, and the lives of their families to come and author America? Religious freedom – ideals that were no doubt considered just as insane by their contemporaries as those espoused here.

    They put their God and money where their mouths were.

    I wonder, how many from this new generation who sip coffee on a couch and “do church” really know what it’s like to put that much conviction and sweat behind how and what they think, or think they know? I cringe with every fiber of my God fearing, history studying being when I see and hear rhetoric that is the antithesis of those ideals. Our country has been a country blessed by God Almighty and deservedly so thanks to those who started her. But alas, this is no longer the case. The newest generations leave behind the “tried and true” or “time tested” morals, ethics, self governing and common sense.
    The path for the righteous never was, nor will it ever be a Disney ride extravaganza.

    God’s work isn’t for the faint of heart, and America and her church is full of faint hearts. You don’t have to reinvent reality here folks, the path was blazed for us. Go back and look at how it was done, not how it needs to be. American’s then didn’t need to be prompted into caring about each other, they did, period. The idea that they wouldn’t take care of each other was something they would never have been able to comprehend, something they knew was contrary to God’s teaching.
    They didn’t just believe they did.

    If you don’t know where you are in life, then start by finding out how we – yes we – got here. We are all one group standing together as Americans. This is already true. There needs to be far less talking and a whole lot more doing. A word of warning, if you presume you can do it without rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty, just never mind.

    If I had to choose between the daydreamer and the doer, my money and my faith is on those who actually are doing it already.

    • The WayWard Follower April 14, 2010 at 9:56 AM #

      Chris–some good points here; however, I’d caution the use of early Americans as the prime example for Christian living in the context of caring for others for a multitude of reasons (e.g., the Trail of Tears; slavery; Salem witch trials, et cetera).

      My vision for the future breaks the barrier of caring for those who look like and act like us- going farther and caring for the Others in our world (think of the Good Samaritan or the early church in dealing with widows and orphans here).

      I believe we will see, in our lifetime, the “greater works than these” that Christ spoke of. Can you imagine a greater work than the Church storming the gates of Hades and successfully breaking in?

  3. Trace James April 14, 2010 at 7:55 AM #

    GOOD STUFF!
    Dreaming is the beginning of the opening up of imagination. All good things begin with day dreams about the way things should be as opposed to the way they are. Dreams force us to open up our imaginations to the Truth who saves. He is the great giver of dreams to us, his children, if we will pay attention. Without dreams of how things might be we have no idea where we are going. Jesus called us to plant his kingdom on the earth. That work is implicitly subversive and conservative at the same time; subverting the world which is passing away but conserving the good that has come before. But first we have to dream together.

    Dylan said, “You can be in my dream if I can be in yours.” Amen.

  4. Jim Fisher April 15, 2010 at 8:52 AM #

    Michael – I have used this post as my morning devotional every day since you posted it. I love how a number of us are focusing in on the last third of John 17 and how incredibly relevant it is to where we are all heading. This is really great stuff and I am honored to be on this Wayward path with you.

  5. John April 16, 2010 at 5:34 AM #

    Excellent post! The Christian imagination can and is empowered by the Spirit that “groans” over our world but also “broods” over our world.

  6. Caroline Osella April 16, 2010 at 11:06 AM #

    Great to have this blog to follow and also a place like this to which I can direct friends who ask

    how can an intelligent woman like you be in church? or

    how can you not write off Christianity, with all the church’s terrible history?

    you are saving me many conversations and expressing it better than I could, thanks!

    (Caroline, member of MCC Brightwaves, Brighton)

  7. The WayWard Follower April 17, 2010 at 11:02 AM #

    worth watching:

    • The WayWard Follower April 17, 2010 at 2:12 PM #

      by request:

      • Jim Fisher April 18, 2010 at 1:08 PM #

        My favorite Bible teacher offered this view of Hell: Before Jesus, there was just Sheol — the place of the dead. Picture Moses sleeping right alongside Pharaoh, David right alongside Goliath. In the Apostles Creed we we say “He descended into Hell” we really should say that he descended into Sheol. He went down there and invited everyone to follow him. Moses, David and all the other saints arose and joined him. Pharaoh and Goliath? They went right on snoring. All the saints arose (by choice) on that day and followed Jesus to heaven.

        What he left behind became Hell — the place for all those who choose not to follow.

  8. Kai May 3, 2010 at 12:39 PM #

    Daydreamers needed. That is so right on.

    I was a part of a fellowship for about 6 years, and we often said to each other… “You can’t change the world.” And the original point of that was that I can’t change my world, my family, my life into what I think it should be or what works best for me. I have to accept that it isn’t the job of the world to make everything go my way and to suite my likes and dislikes. And that was a good and needed point to make, but it all got taken too far. “You can’t change the world.” turned into this whole “hands-off” attitude and really left it all no better than it was before.

    To have an effect isn’t an option. We are CREATED to have an effect. And we all do. Will I be a leader? isn’t the question. Where am I leading others? is what we should be asking ourselves. Because ‘somebody’ is always watching – at work, at home, at school, at the little league softball game… Whether I am attempting to do something great or just walking my way through my day, I am affecting (leaving an impression on) the world around me. And, be it ever so slightly, I am changing the world.

    When the children of Israel demanded a king, God was hurt. He wanted to be their king. He wanted each person to be connected to Him, to be accountable to Him, to come directly to Him and relate to Him. And He warned them what would happen and what it would be like (infact, if you read it, it sounds very much like what we have from OUR Government (our king?)). But the people insisted.

    And we hear it everywhere we go… “somebody needs to DO something, somebody needs to be accountable” – not ME of course, but somebody, the king, the government, the schools, the church, the teachers, the preacher, the television producers, the musicians… “Somebody needs to do something.”

    We have an affect on the world. Sometimes we affect it by NOT showing up, NOT being where we are needed, NOT doing what needs done. And that is what I struggle with, and that is what I am asking God to help me work on. Because most of MY life, I have chosen to do nothing, for fear of doing the wrong thing. But doing nothing IS doing something. And it has had an affect.

    God, forgive me for playing the part of Pilot, and washing my hands, and leaving it to “somebody” (else).
    And help me to become engaged in this life that surrounds me. Amen

  9. sinai11 May 6, 2010 at 8:19 PM #

    I want to dream for others. I want to change other peoples lives. Thank you for reminding me that if I do no dream, I will not touch them. I am dreaming.

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