Old Men Dream Dreams (Acts 2:17)
A little while back I had a very vivid dream. I tend to dream often and like most people my dreams are typically foggy, fragmented, meaningless and quickly forgotten. Not this one! Over my forty-plus years of this amazing journey with the Lord, I have had a handful of what I consider, to be meaningful dreams. Those dreams were clear, striking and often symbolic of something easily interpreted. Dreams can be one of the ways the Lord “speaks” to His children.
I was in a large kitchen. It may have been a commercial kitchen – I’m not sure. In the dream there was a large stack of round dinner plates that needed to be put away. The only space available was a counter top. However, the counter top was invaded by a cabinet resting on the counter top. The cabinet’s external corner took up some of the space on the counter top where the plates would stack. I said to whoever was with me “the plates won’t fit there because the corner of the cabinet is sticking out”. They quickly responded “not a problem”! Then my unknown companion deftly and with great precision cut pie-shaped wedges out of each plate. This enabled the plates to sit on the counter, allowing the corner of the cabinet to fit neatly into plates where the pie-shaped wedge had been removed. Problem solved! I woke up.
The dream was vivid, I remembered all the details but the dream left me feeling very uncomfortable. I instantly prayed and instantly received the meaning of the dream without so much as a thought.
The plates represented “teachings”, food for the soul we might say, that are being offered in some churches. The external corner “invading” the counter top represents the influence of our current culture. In order for the plates (the teachings) to fit in with our current culture, something had to be cut away. I believe the press of the culture/world system (see previous blog) is invading and influencing the church at an unprecedented rate. Certain distinguishing and necessary truths of the Biblical/Gospel message are being eliminated to fit the current taste of the culture. The result is the soul is becoming malnourished and weakened which sometimes allows opportunistic parasites to invade and diminish the health of the body. Too often the church is not the influencer but the influenced! When meaningful facets of necessary truth are left out (remember truth brings freedom, John 8:32) not only is the message of the Gospel weakened – it is redefined!
The persistent drumbeat of the culture is “offend no one”. Yet, the Gospel will offend the sensibilities of all who embrace it! It has to! But the offense is actually a passionate and love-motivated message that is meant to open our eyes to our absolute need for a Savior. This means I have to admit my sin, failures, pride, ignorance and fear. The offense actually becomes an invitation! And the invitation is made available at great sacrifice and at an unimaginable cost. By the very Creator of life we are invited out of death and destruction and into a life worth living! We are invited into a Kingdom where transformative Love is experienced, soul-restoring Truth is revealed, purpose and meaning are discovered and worth and value are bestowed. Like I said, a life worth living!
But Ray, don’t you think the church is simply trying to be welcoming to all! Of course, and we should be! But what are we welcoming folks into?
If what we teach (offer on the plate) does not on a regular basis unveil the beauty and splendor of Jesus as Lord, Savior and Life-Genius; the soul will be malnourished. If what we teach does not gently, wisely and accurately present the truth concerning a healthy moral life; the soul will become malnourished. If we do not teach that thoughts, choices and behaviors matter; the soul will become malnourished. If we do not teach that sin diminishes life and that practicing Biblical truth fosters life; the soul will be malnourished. If we eliminate from our teachings what Jesus taught about heaven and hell; the soul will become malnourished.
From my work and experience I believe that people are actually longing for solid truth. Not a truth that comes from a blog (even this one!) or the latest article, or ideas posted on social media, or some interesting notion developed by a podcast, but I believe people are looking for a time-tested Truth. A Truth that has proven to be so liberating, so transformative, so steeped in unfailing absolute Love, that for many it was a truth worth dying for.
With great kindness and gentleness, with love and compassion we can teach the beauty and the weightiness of the Gospel to those who have ears to hear. It is our calling – it is our mandate.
I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples, baptizing then in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew:28:18-20)
I think that we can trust that the seed will accomplish what the Sower and the Lord of the Harvest intends. Who knows, what offends a person one day may be the very truth on another day that causes one to turn (repent) and joyfully enter the Kingdom of the Son of His love!