Thursday, April 26, 2007

Visionary dreaming

God hates visionary dreaming.

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "Life Together"

And nearly everyone who hears me quote this statement hates it!

Aren't we supposed to have "vision?" Well, not of our own hearts (Jeremiah 23:16). And God-given vision - what God makes us see - is mostly where we actually are, and precisely how it isn't where we belong (1 John 1:5-10). Our pride wants to be fed, and visionary dreaming feeds it. God wants to starve and kill our pride, and hard truth does that. Why so? Because pride before stumbling, and a haughty spirit before a fall, but before honor is humility, and God wants to steer us away from stimbling and falling and into a place of honor. So why fight him on this?

Bonhoeffer learned that visionary dreaming makes life together impossible, because we love our visions and dreams at the expense of one another, and at the expense of God's vision, which is the truth we need to know about ourselves. And because eye has not seen, ear has not heard, and it has not entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for us, our visions and dreams blind us to the truly good things God does have for us.

What really was wrong with the false prophets in Jeremiah's day was not that they got things wrong. What they got wrong is that they loved their own dreams rather than the living God. To pleasure themselves with their own big ideas seemed better to them than feeding on the truth. Being deceived was just the consequence of their choosing sweet lies over truth. They didn't receive the love of the truth because they didn't know that the sweetest lies are bitter in the end, and the hardest truth gives delight and comfort that those who reject truth will never know.

Visionary dreaming is what we do to hide from the knowledge of the weakness and blindness we despise in ourselves. It's how Laodiceans convince themselves that we are rich and in need of nothing because of the wonderful things we see, the way we keep from realizing that we are poor, blind, naked, and wretched so that God can enrich us, open our eyes, clothe us, and dignify us.

God hates visionary dreaming, but he loves truth in the inward parts (Psalm 51:6). It will do us good to come to feel that way too.

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