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.