“Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”—Matthew 7:13, 14
For millennia, individuals have desired to follow their dream. In 1963, Martin Luther King said, “I have a dream…”, and 50’s idol James Dean said “Dream as if you’ll live forever…”
Ecclesiastes 5:3 states, “For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.”
The scripture correctly suggests that not only is work necessary to birth a dream into a reality, but a multitude of it. This correct.
James 2:26 states a similar thing, in that faith without works is dead.
Many of a Christian’s dreams run counter-clockwise to the Lord’s dreams for his people. Often, money and comfort is involved in part of our dream for the future, and it is difficult to shake off. When we read Christ’s writings of how difficult it is for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God, we tend to dismiss it on the premise that we don’t want that much money, just a good amount of it; enough to be comfortable, retire with a sufficient amount for trips and purchases and, of course, plenty to leave our children or grandchildren.
The Apostle Paul’s writings of how he shed everything to follow the Lord only resonates with us in word, but not in deed. We tend to put him in an extra-zealous category. We want to be like him in our spirit, but not if it means we lose our manner of living to which we have become accustomed in this world.
On the other hand, the Lords says he doesn’t want his people to be foolish, but working diligently towards goals. The Lord is big on goals and achievements.
If we didn’t have dreams we would not be able to visualise the future and direct our paths accordingly. So we need to dream of the future. We need to visualise it, to capture it in an mind-image then work towards it.
However, what if, in our passion to realise our dreams, we have excluded some foundations?
What if we have excluded God in the quest to follow our dreams? Not that we would shut him out altogether; a Christian would not do that. However, what if we inadvertently shut out his calling for us as individuals? Or minimised it to get our dream moving forward? Or put it aside for a time, like many Christians do, so we can work on our dream?
I visit many businesses in my current role, and have owned a busy establishment previously (we closed two days per year); and was reared in a busy take-away shop where I worked 7 days per week for 4 years (5-6 hours x 6 days & full day x 1), again, closing only 2 days per year. I know that some dreams people have ends up owing them instead of the other way around. It takes over their lives, and becomes the squeaky cog which they always MUST oil first. I have seen families disintegrate because of the demands of those dreams, I have seen loving husbands and wives become enemies over those dreams, and it is tragic.
There is a mysterious veil which seems to envelope itself around the eyes and minds of some dreamers, where they cannot see the realities of the current life, but only the desire to pursue their dream, and hope everything will be alright while they are ‘missing’.
Whether that dream is the pursuit of money or for some other great prize, somewhere, the questions must be asked, why do we not put God first? In a life where we do not have re-runs, and there is only one goal worth pursuing — “Seek Ye First The Kingdom of God and His Righteousness…”— are we willing to gamble the time away on a counter-clockwise dream?
Presenting our bodies as living sacrifices
In Romans 12:1-2, Paul writes to spur us on to changing our behaviours and the way we think…to transform them from the natural way of life and desire to the spiritual way of life and desire.
He says, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Living sacrifice. Despite reading this passage many times, the Christian still finds it difficult to proceed any further with the subject than just reading it.
What is a sacrifice? Because, it seems that many interpretations seem wildly off the mark.
Strong’s concordance G2380, states it means ‘the act or the victim’, literally or figuratively.
We are meant to be the victim of our own desire to become holy and acceptable, laying down our natural lives along with all its desires, whims and ingenuities on the slaughterblock, to be burnt up in an offering to the Lord.
That sacrifice or ‘burning’ is holy and acceptable to God. It is what he desires. It is much like our water baptism, where we offer our lives and become fully immersed in a washing experience.
Within that earnest process of sacrifice, our minds become transformed and our thinking renewed; renewed to think how God would think and align our desires with His will, not ours. ONLY THEN, can we begin to understand (prove) what is the ‘good, acceptable and perfect will of God’ for our lives.
This process must be taken by every true person calling themselves ‘Christian’, because, when we give our hearts to God, that is exactly what it means — given to God. We are called to a different way of life, and the desires of the flesh should be cut off at the slaughterblock. Often, we find we need to revisit that slaughterblock several times in our life and place ourselves on it again, as we have lost the spiritual vision, and find that what was clear is now blurry — discerning the good, acceptable and perfect.
Many Christians settle for the ‘good‘ or ‘acceptable‘, just getting across the line, but not Best Practice, and certainly not God’s ideal place for us. In doing this, we reduce the effectiveness of our ministry and profession, and therefore the crown God has for us.