In this episode we explore the power of vision and what it means to see our dreams come true. We all are embedded with a picture of how things are supposed to be, a desire for broken things to be renewed, and a hope for a better tomorrow. This is our dream; the deepest desire of our hearts. There are four types of dreams people pursue – possessions, pleasures, praise, and position.. Each can be twisted for evil or used for good. What is the best way to achieve these dreams?
Welcome back again to our life as an epic tale. We have been talking about Snow White as our image of what our life is like, is one analogy. We talked about Snow White being royalty who has been displaced. She has been exiled from her appropriate position by a usurper, a usurper that has a poisonous apple and uses it to bring death into the world.
And, of course, she’s exiled into a forest where there’s dwarves living there, and she finds out her lot in life is to cheerfully serve these dwarfs, which, of course, is an analogy for humanity.
Humanity was originally given the charge to rule and reign over the earth in perfect harmony with God and with one another and with nature; and because of death entering the world, all that’s been obliterated. Our natural design, our natural position, it’s all been stripped away.
So here we are living in a scary forest with all kinds of dangers and all this dwarfed humanity. We’re not what we’re supposed to be. And, of course, the ultimate answer is a handsome prince who will come and rescue us.
Well, these wonderful stories have allure to us because they do tap into our deepest desires; and, of course, this is what we want, ultimately.
And we’ve looked at this epic tale as a journey and a quest because in every one of these stories, there’s something, some path, that the hero or the heroine has to take. And we’ve looked at the deep valleys in our journey. We’ve looked at the plains of everyday activities that tend to get monotonous; and, yet, we understand that washing the dwarfs’ clothes and cheerfully serving them is an integral part of what God’s called us to.
Then we look at the mountaintops and the difficulty of maintaining our perspective and realizing the reason we got to the top of the Mount of Transfiguration was because we followed Jesus up there. We didn’t know that was going to be a mountaintop experience, but he has us have that experience so we can follow him back down because it’s everyday life where the real impact is made.
We’ve also looked at the beginning point of our journey, our two-minute adventure ride, Snow White’s Scary Adventures. We put on our seatbelt, and the seatbelt of our life is God’s unconditional, unrelenting, irrevocable love and grace. The reality that we as children can never do anything that would cause us to be rejected as his child. What a wonderful reality we can bask in because that belonging is something that’s just given to us. We can’t deserve it. We can’t lose it. A fantastic beginning point.
And then we looked at the end of the journey which is the new earth. We’ll go through heaven along the way, but as we looked at it, heaven is just a place where a bunch of stuff happens like judgments and things like that, and sorting. And the ultimate fulfillment of this human experience is when heaven comes to earth and Jesus dwells with his people; and that is what we really, really look forward to.
And then, once again, the earth will be restored to what it was originally intended. And the people of God, the overcomers, will rule and reign with Christ forever and ever. And so, there is a happily-ever-after ending to this scary adventure.
But one of the things that’s a reality about this adventure is that there’s trouble along the way, and there’s true risk. There’s no risk that God would ever not want our best interest. There’s no risk that God would ever expunge us from the family and exile us from being his child.
We as human parents, frail and weak as we are, would never do that to our children; and if a parent does that, we consider them to be cruel, harsh, and inappropriate as parents. Well, certainly the perfect parent, God, would never do that.
But on the other hand, we as parents would never approve of something that was self- destructive to our child, at least not if we’re being a good parent. We’re not going to encourage or reward something that’s not in the best interest of our child.
Dreams coming true
So today what we’re going to look at is another aspect of this Disney analogy, which is our dreams coming true. What we all have is embedded in us this design of how it’s supposed to be, and this desire for everything to be renewed; and we have this dream. We don’t articulate it very well, but we respond to stories that do.
And I’m going to begin with a quote from one of the modern philosophers who has best articulated this idea; and, of course, you’ll recognize this theologian immediately. He is the conscience for an entire generation. And, of course, I’m speaking of Jiminy Cricket. And here’s what Jiminy says:
When you wish upon a star,
Makes no difference who you are.
Anything your heart desires will come to you.
If your heart is in your dream,
No request is too extreme.
When you wish upon a star
Like dreamers do,
Fate is kind.
She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of
their secret longing.
Like a bolt out of the blue,
Fate steps in and pulls you through.
When you wish upon a star—and I know what’s going through all your heads—
Your dreams come true!
So fate, star, all this, just think about what this is saying. And, of course, anything can be used inappropriately, as we are going to discuss today, and especially these deep desires and dreams we have. But let’s paraphrase what’s being said here: Somewhere out there is somebody who controls destiny and wants me to have my deepest dreams come true, if my heart’s really in it.
Well there’s a reason why this appeals to us because that’s really the way we are.
The dreams people pursue
Let’s look at dreams. Then what are the great dreams that we tend to see people pursue? I think they go into four different categories, and all these categories are interrelated, and all of them can be twisted and usually are in this world where humanity is dwarfed and the forest is scary. They are possessions, pleasures, praise, and position. Possessions, pleasures, praise, and position.
Think about possessions. People pursue expensive cars, expensive toys, huge houses, or gaudy possessions, diamonds or gadgets; and this is something that we tend to see people spend a lot of their time and attention and dreams on.
Then there’s pleasure. People spend an immense amount of time pursuing entertainment, perhaps some sort of ecstasy, perhaps belonging to something and the feeling of acceptance. People pursue praise, fame, perhaps, some kind of recognition or accomplishment.
And, of course, these things can be interrelated. People build the house that’s gigantic that everybody can see so they get attention, and they get praise.
And the last one position. Power, authority, prestige often goes with position.
I was told by a person who was pretty highly placed in a certain very powerful government we’re all familiar with that his observation was that a large percentage of politicians were extremely needy people, who needed affirmation, and that’s why they were willing to pay the price of all this endless campaigning is because they got positive feedback that they were so desperate for.
But, again, we see people willing to do extreme things for these dreams; and, of course, we see the twisted nature of these dreams come through the dwarfed humanity and the scary forest aspect.
Think about hoarders. They really, really care about their possessions; and at the end of the day, it’s very sad because, who owns who? Who possesses who? Yeah, the newspapers or the junk possesses the person, right?
And we think about pleasures. Someone who pursues ecstasy or someone who pursues some sort of experience often ends up in addiction.
Or fame. I occasionally will check out at a grocery store or something; and, of course, they have this wall of shame of all these periodicals. And this person set their hair on fire, and this person cut their leg off, and this person is, you know—it’s just like, what do I have to do to get in front of the camera? Whatever kind of self-destructive thing, I’ll do it! I’ll do anything! Desperate for attention and fame. They can have it.
And then, of course, position, and I’ve already discussed what some people will do to keep their position. And, of course, I’ve watched this happen firsthand where very well-meaning people go in and then they start telling themselves, well, I need to compromise here because I need to keep this position, and only I can do the right thing. And if I get this position, then if I get more power, I can do more good. And, of course, the minute somebody says I will do wrong now so I can do more good later, the more good never comes. What they do is become expert at justifying that they need to have the power and position. So we see how all these things can be twisted.
God gave us these dreams
But God actually put these desires into us for a reason. This is our design to want all these things. And what God wants us to do is not try to figure out how to suppress these dreams. He does not want us to go and look at the world’s fault substitutes and conclude that, therefore, we should not pursue. What God wants us to do is point these desires to the place where he has provided the dreams to come true. And in doing so, what we discover is the true joy and the true fulfillment in life and rejection from the world.
Let’s just look at these dreams, and let’s look at how God has provided for these dreams.
Objections to the idea that God wants us to achieve our dreams in eternity
And the first thing I want to talk about is a couple of objections to the notion that God wants us to have eternal possessions, eternal pleasures, eternal praise, and an eternal position. Our position as his children is eternally secure; these other things are conditional.
The reward of life is conditional on the choices we make. If we want great relationships with other people, we have to follow the commands of God. If we want to be an island unto ourselves, we can disobey the commands of God. There are consequences to our actions.
Objection 1: Everything has to be equal
Two objections about this notion that when we get to heaven, everybody’s not going to be the same. And to a large extent, the modern-era, counterfeit Christianity—which is Marxism, for the most part, in the Western world. In the third world, there are other things—has preached this notion that the ultimate good is equality. And it’s whether we’re all equally poor and miserable or whatever, just equality. Has to be equal.
Jonathan Edwards, no less, said, “Those who are not so high in relation to others will not envy those who are higher in the new earth.”
And there’s that there’s this notion that in the new earth, envy will no longer be present. Tears will be wiped away, and there’s no more pain; and there’ll be no more envy. So the idea that people are going to be ticked because everybody’s not the same, it’s just not biblical.
One of the reasons why people object to this notion of inequality in the new earth, which is part of the reality, Jesus said, what? The last will be first, and the first will be last, so it’s clearly a distinction that’s being made. And, of course, he’s turning this on its head. What we tend to esteem, he does not esteem. What we tend to loathe, he esteems.
So this is, I think, really, the guts of why we don’t like this notion that everything’s not going to be the same. It’s really because God’s the one that’s going to do the ranking, and we don’t like that. That’s what we really don’t like. We don’t like the notion that God’s going to decide.
And God says things like, “I’m going to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Who wants that? And God says things like, “I’m going to measure you according to the measure you measure to others.” That’s even less desirable, right? We’re going to be treated like we treat others? Who wants that?
Jesus is going to judge according to the way he decides to judge. And he says things like to whom much is given much is expected. So it seems like he grades on a curve somehow. Of course, what we always want to know is, what are the rules and how can we find loopholes? How does the system work so we can get something for nothing?
And that’s not the way it’s going to work. God is God. God will judge. And he, by definition, will be fair and equal.
What we really don’t like is the real definition of fairness and equality. Have you noticed when you teach your children about fairness, how they use it? They never use it to say, “Oh, wait a minute! Hang on, I need to give this to my sister because I want to be fair and share.” Have you ever heard that, ever in your life?
But you hear immediately, “She won’t share! Give me that! Your banana is a half inch longer than mine! Give me! We don’t have the same—” It’s always me, me, me.
God is judge, and—the people with kids are laughing down here. So God is the judge, and we don’t like other people being the judge. We want to be the judge. That’s really what’s going on.
Objection 2: It’s selfish to want a reward
And the other objection to this notion that it’s not all the same that there’s going to be distinctions and there’s something to be lost is the idea that, it’s selfish to really pursue something for the reward of it. We shouldn’t ask God to give us anything. We should just do it because it’s the right thing to do.
Well this one really drives me crazy. I happen to be in a position where I’m in the leadership of multiple organizations, and do you know how rare it is for someone to come up and say, “I think I’m paid too much. I’d just like to give back to the organization because, you know, I don’t really want any reward. All I need is basic food and sustenance. This extra is just a burden to me. I just want to do this because it’s the right thing to do.”
How many times do you think I’ve ever had that conversation with somebody? It has happened. It has happened. It’s rare. It does happen. It is exceedingly rare. And I think what we’re really saying here when we say we shouldn’t do anything for God, like we do every day for each other here, is because what we’re really saying is I don’t care what God thinks. Who cares what God thinks? All I care about is what I think.
Again, this is the way two- and three-year-olds operate. They think that parents are obligated to go along with them.
We’re supposed to be winning crowns
So we have these objections, but the objections, at the end of the day, don’t hold any real weight.
I like this quote by G. H. Lang, who’s a guy who died about three years after I was born, an English theologian, and he writes this:
In this principle, therefore, a noble scope for holy ambition is thrown open. That faculty of the soul which pants for glory is implanted of God. In the natural man it is, like every other power of the soul, misdirected and leads him away from God and from true glory at the same time. But God has spread a wide field of ambition before the eye of the believer and not only permits him but exhorts him to pursue it. He has set before our eyes five crowns as rewards for different kinds of service and each may, by divine grace, win not only one but several.
I like this. I like this notion that God’s real desire for us is we stop aiming so low. Stop dreaming for things that are false substitutes for what will actually and truly fulfill our souls.
Don’t lose the reward that you’ve worked for
Let’s look at some of these things, and let’s look at the reality that these are things that have to be retained. Now interestingly, this is actually not something we have to earn in order to possess. It’s kind of fascinating the way the scripture talks about this. Usually we think about building a business, and you kind of have to earn your way up or something like that. Actually, the way the scripture talks about this is this is a possession that’s actually just given to us, but we can squander it. We can lose it.
Look at 2 John 8 real quick. 2 John is not a book that we turn to all that often. It only has one little chapter, but it says something quite amazing here. The whole thing just takes two minutes to read. Let’s just read the whole thing.
The Elder (John)
To the elect lady and her children—we are probably talking about the church here—whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth,
because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever: So we’re talking to all believers here
Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father. This is wonderful! Man! Some of the people in this church are walking in the truth. I’m so happy!
And now I plead with you, lady—church—not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another.
This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. We’ve got some people walking in the truth let’s spread it, and everybody walk in the truth. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.
For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
So you’ve got people walking in the truth. He’s exhorting the other believers to walk in the truth. But there are these deceivers, these antichrists. What is the negative effect an antichrist can have on a group of people who are walking in the truth?
Verse 8. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.
See this inheritance is something that we can squander; and by walking in the truth, we possess our possessions. You see this image in the Old Testament all the time. God says to Abraham, “This is your land. You’ll get all these blessings. But you got to stay in it.” And every time they leave, something bad happens.
“This is your land, but you have to go in and possess it.”
“We can’t do that. There are giants, and there are all these problems!”
“Well then, stay out here in the desert and die.”
And this is our life. We have this possession; but if we don’t walk in the truth, it’s something that can be lost.
Well, what are these possessions? Again, this is not our position as children. That can’t be lost. The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. But possessions can be squandered.