Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., fifty years ago today, gave a speech which has rightly been eulogized and remembered for all time. It was a great speech especially for that day, and as such remains a great speech for all time. The push behind that speech goes on to this day, although much has been gained since that time with regard to the crux of the issue then: civil rights in America for Black people.
A society free of racism continues to be a good goal to pursue in the public sector, one that ought to be lived out Sunday after Sunday in our churches, and in our daily lives as followers of Jesus. Today the push for civil rights includes gays and the LGBT community. Many either want or are open to gay marriage, at least accepting it. And of course there are many causes being pushed, some good, some not so good, and some probably indifferent to many of us.
Do we have a dream? As followers of Christ is that legitimate? I think of dream here as a vision of what is good, what we would like to see, even what we hope to see in this world. Such a vision will depend on one’s theology to a large extent. And I include those who hardly know the definition of “theology.” Theology I am thinking of in terms of what one thinks is possible as well as good in this life. Something to which individuals, communities and society at large ought to aspire. The aspiration for the world at large will vary, again depending on one’s view of what is possible as well as good in such.
For me I simply see the fulfillment of God’s kingdom, come in Jesus, in the church, and out from the church into the world, as central to any dream I would have. This includes an emphasis on the gospel of King Jesus in terms of redemption from evils, wrongs, sins done. And reconciliation through that gospel across the board. And that is in terms of the offer of the good news of King Jesus to all, to the world. On the basis of Jesus’ cross- of his death, walls of separation, even hate can and will come down, as people both accept that cross objectively, as the focal point and mover and shaker for change, and subjectively as the way in which life is lived as followers of Jesus. Such a change is to come from the heart in relationship to God in Jesus by the Spirit. It cannot strictly speaking be legislated. And yet such an example from followers of Jesus, from the church shows a standard that perhaps is new to many of what humanity ought to look like, yes, even in this tragic, sinful world.
The other part of the dream I would have would be in terms both of the fruit as well as gifts of the Spirit. We need the Holy Spirit. We don’t just need right thinking or right theology. We need the experience no less than God’s love being poured out in our hearts by the Spirit whom God gives to all who believe in Jesus. We need the experience of the power and presence of God by the Holy Spirit. Yes, we need the faith to heal people, to cast out demons, to prophesy, to live in the movement of the Spirit in ways in which by and large most of us are not accustomed to. We need openness, but more than that we need to put this faith into practice. To grow in it.
I am of the persuasion according to my theological understanding that response and change within the world at large to God’s kingdom come in Jesus will be mixed. We can expect some persecution. Yet we can also hope for some good, some change. Only when Jesus returns will justice really prevail. The church should be an expression of God’s will for the earth. And that expression is not only localized, to itself, but missional. Although the expression as an example in itself, is missional.
And so I have a dream. God can give each of us dreams, perhaps on a smaller scale to contribute to the whole. God’s good will for the earth. We are in that good will together in and through Jesus for the world.