Monday, January 28, 2008

The Death of Our Dreams

Ted Dekker, the author of many Christians novels, has written a book entitled The Slumber of Christianity.* The premise of this non-fiction book is that followers of Christ have become preoccupied with finding happiness and pleasure here on earth rather than in the age to come and in the process the happiness and pleasure of right now lose their significance. For me this is a thought that resonates within my heart. Life never seems to turn out the way it is supposed and even when it does there seems to be something missing.

Aren’t you looking for meaning and satisfaction in your life or have you allowed those desires to go to sleep? I know I am. Dekker writes:
“Perhaps you know this slumber; perhaps you don’t. Either way, any living soul who is even remotely concerned with enjoying life this side of death needs to know about a terrible shortsightedness that has lulled Christians by the millions into a deep sleep.” (p.4)

That we have settled for a life that is disappointing is a bad enough, but the fact that our lives are no different than the rest of the world is absolutely tragic. Where is the hope that is supposed set us apart for everyone else?
“You’ll get more and more sighs and nods at suggestions that Christians aren’t really so different from non-Christians, certainly not on the scale you would expect considering the promises of love, joy, and peace boldly pronounces from thousands of pulpits across the land. We spend our money on the same kinds of entertainment, we buy the same kinds of foods and clothes, and we spend as much time searching for purpose.” (p.9)

It is no wonder that the Church is losing influence in the West. If we can’t be different than those people around us and if the hope we are to have in Jesus isn’t evident in our lives then why should we expect people to be interested in following Jesus? If we can’t find what we are looking for then other people will assume they won’t be able to find it either.

We have been told to have more faith, to sin less, and to seek after God. So we throw ourselves into the “spiritual” disciplines that we have and the results have been less than impressive.
“Most Christians have followed this mantra in spurts, yet they invariably end up dissatisfied with the results. Their marriages still fail. Their jobs are still downsized. Their cars still break down. Their health still wanes. And they still can’t seem to find enough faith to ignore their general predicament in life or embrace the great happiness they once had as naive children.” (pp. 9, 10)

Somehow we seem to have forgotten one of the great truths the Bible teaches: We can’t find satisfaction in this life. When we make find happiness and pleasure in this life our goal we will fail.
“The fact is, nothing in this life can satisfy unless it is fully bathed in an obsession for eternity. Nothing. Not a purpose-driven life, not a grand adventure, not the love of a dashing prince or the hand of a beautiful maiden.” (p. 11)

It is not that these things are not worth while or incapable of delivering us moments of happiness and pleasure, but when they are taken out of the context of our hope for heaven and seeing Jesus, then they will not satisfy us. They were never designed to satisfy us to begin with.
“Yet, stripped of a preoccupation with heaven, this life and all its pleasures will continue to disappoint you, because life really isn’t about purpose or adventure in your allotted time on earth. It’s more about the purpose and adventure of eternity. You will find great happiness for this life only when you lose yourself to the climax of the next life.” (p. 13)

In the context of hope our pleasures and dreams we have right now take on greater significance. They become a foretaste of what awaits us in glory.
“This hope in no way minimizes the work of Christ on the cross to deliver us from the bondage of sin now, while we run the race. But we will experience our final escape from sin only in that final day of ecstasy. In the meantime, our access to that day of bliss is found through the pleasures of God and in particular through a portal called hope.

“It is critical that we begin to understand our great slumber and awaken to reclaim our incredible and enviable inheritance. It is time we begin to hope, really hope, for the incomparable riches that await us.” (p. 14)

I hope that you will join me on this journey as I read through this book and discover Ted Dekker’s thoughts about how we can awaken a desire for heaven here on earth. **

* Dekker, Ted; The Slumber of Christianity: Awaking a Passion for Heaven on Earth; Nelson Books, Nashville, TN; 2005

** I have not read this book. I am in the process of reading it. So I don’t know if it will be any good or if it will offering any new insights, but since I do so much reading I thought I would try to combine two of my passions. Let me know what you think.

Find the other chapters:
Chapter 2: The Search for Pleasure
Chapter 3: Foundations
Chapter 4: Give Me Pleasure or Give Me Death
Chapter 5: The Slippery Slope to Slumber
Chapter 6: In Living We Die; In Dying We Live
Chapter 7: Created to Obsess
Chapter 8: The Eyes of the Heart part 1
Chapter 8: The Eyes of the Heart part 2

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