This guest post comes from Joseph Yacoub, a member of St Paul Church in Chicago. Recently their church held a campaign called "This I Dream" - where every member was asked to share a God-glorifying dream in their Cornerstone meeting. This was his dream. And if you too are interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.
One of my favorite authors tells a story of an English yachtsman who made a small mistake, a slight miscalculation. That author, G. K. Chesterton, would say about the yachtsman: “His mistake was really a most enviable mistake.”
The English yachtsman sailed to what he would have thought a new island in South Seas, he got off his boat planted the British flag and even talked to the locals in sign language, only to find out that he had slightly miscalculated his course and the new island he had just discovered was… England.
The Englishman had discovered England!
You think he would have felt a fool, and perhaps you many think him a fool, but Chesterton fancies that he felt something unique and indeed enviable.
“What could be more delightful” Chesterton says “than to have in the same few minutes all the fascinating terrors of going abroad combined with all the humane security of coming home again?”
I dream of a new church, or better said an “ever-new” church (though thatword may not actually exist). “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
God likes things “new”. He calls us to put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator, (Colossians 3:10) and to be made new in the attitude of [our] minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:23-24).
Only God can keep something perpetually new. No matter how much the thing is full of life and energy, apart from God, it is on a path that eventually has to end with death and decay. But, with God there is life… a life that remains new.
These days, the idea of “new” is a relative term. Things can only be “new” for so long, or nowadays, for so short. We constantly make cosmetic changes to our lives because we get bored easily. We look for the new thrill, new adventure, new toy or new look, but it all gets old fast.
So you buy a brand new phone today, and then buy the new plan that allows you to exchange the new phone for the newer phone that will surely come out before the new year.
Newness seems elusive when sought after, but perhaps it is closer to home than we think. Our English yachtsman experienced the exhilaration of a new discovery in the place he never thought to look for it.
Now bring that to our church today and you will see why we experience a natural tension between boredom and legacy… rebellion and conformity. Chesterton once again brings me a winning analogy.
Once upon a time a small town held a high goal of loving from a pure heart. At the entrance of their town they installed a large sign. It was just a plain white sign to symbolize the purity they held so dearly. It was as white as they could possibly make it white. No writing, no drawing, nothing but just white.
Fast forward many generations. There arose an argument about that sign. Some townsmen said: “We need to repaint this sign. Let’s bring a famous artist to draw something new instead of this old boring look.”
But, there came the other townsmen who said, “Absolutely not. This is the sign we inherited from our forefathers, we shouldn’t touch it.”
“But, look at how dirty and ugly it has become,” said the bored townsmen, “we need to repaint it or tear it down or something. And if a famous artist made us a modern sculpture instead we would surely get more attention to our town.”
“Never” said the legacy townsmen, “we shall never come near that sign. It shall remain the way we have gotten it.”
I thought that I belonged to a third group that said: “The sign is our heritage, but, it has become grey from the effect of the years. So let’s repaint it white with the same shade of white that it once had.”
This analogy communicated where I stood on so many subjects in life, particularly church life. But I discovered an even better dream of which I dream now and of which I share my dream with you.
What if we realized that our forefathers never claimed the credit for painting the sign in the first place? What if it was a very specific artist that painted that sign? And what if that very artist is always ready and eager to repaint His sign? And what if that artist actually lives among us? What if that artist actually was leading our lives? And what if the artist gave us the constant newness and freshness that doesn’t age with time?
Then it dawned on me. The “ever-new” church of which I dream, is simply the church which Christ established. A church buzzing with life because in it lives the Author of Life. A church that is always new, always fresh, always alive, because in it lives are being made new everyday (hopefully including my very own life).
In short, This I Dream: A personal and church renewal through trust in God, renewal of mind & attitude and a fresh prayer life.
Perhaps like that English yachtsman who discovered England, I too find both the exhilaration and security in finding that my dream takes me back to the very basics from which it all started.
What do you dream???