“God hates visionary dreaming.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
How’s that to spur on your New Year’s resolve? Kind of the same way Ecclesiastes would?
Well, this idea that God hates visionary dreaming might actually be just what you need to give the church another chance for 2016. Try giving it up for a little bit (in regard to church), and see what happens.
It’s funny how we place so much importance on being disappointed. That might be the worst thing someone could say about something. As though, even with the benefit of the doubt, it just could not deliver. But what if the problem is not in the thing, but in our expectations? The definition of disappointment is to fail to fill the hopes or expectations of something.
When I think about the struggles I’ve had in my church communities–or my family, or my friends–over the years, it almost always comes down to my ideals for them. I see other communities–in the Bible or in other books or from my own past–and I want my community now to be like that. But it isn’t. And it never becomes that, because every community is even more unique than the people that make it up. It consists not just of the people, but of the relationships those people form together. Even crazier, my ideals are totally different from almost everyone else out there, being shaped by my experiences and my tastes, so how can they possibly find their fulfillment in any endeavor that requires more than just me?
So here’s a question:
What if disappointment is not a signal to us that something has gone bad, but actually an indication that our hopes were misplaced?
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” -Hebrews 11:1
“…we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” -Romans 8:23b-25
The Christian life does not disappoint, because our hopes are not for anything in this life. Our single, overarching, confident hope is in Jesus’ return, whereby our adoption will be confirmed, our bodies redeemed, our souls saved, and our eyes see the Face we could not have mustered the strength to survive seeing up to that point. That is when our hope will be fulfilled.
And so, remember that without vision, the people perish. But remember what that vision really is. Never turn it into something less.