Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hope for Australia - I have a dream

Last Sunday at church, we were asked in groups to give three to five words on what gave us hope for Australia. I didn't really get a chance to speak during that time - partly because of the dynamics of the group, but also because, at first, I struggled to find anything in Australia that gave me hope.

But I've been thinking about it all week and I've finally come up with my three to five words. They're a bit different to the words that other people were providing. They gave words for three to five different things. Well I'm giving three to five words that make up a phase. And it's a phrase is borrowed from Martin Luther King Jr.

What gives me hope for Australia? I have a dream. Or to change it to three words and make it more specific to Australia: Australians have dreams.

A dream is the ability to imagine a different world. It doesn't just say 'Well this is the way the world is', it asks 'How might the world be changed?' It doesn't just accept injustice and suffering. It envisions a world without them. It doesn't look at the problems in the world and despair. It sees its potential to become something new and something better.

Dreams can become just wishful thinking. But when Martin Luther King Jr said he had a dream, he wasn't just talking about something to fantasise about. Nobody expected that Martin Luther King Jr would be happy just to close his eyes and imagine that different world. He was going to do everything he could to see that world happen.

Dream can also appear to be unrealistic. The bigger the dream, the more idealistic people are, the more likely people are to scoff at them and say 'that will never happen'. People with dreams can often seem like they're too focused on the way the world might be that they've lost touch with the way the world actually is.

But it is an understanding of what actually is wrong with this world that encourages us to dream. We don't dream because we think the world is perfect and rosy. We dream because we know it is not.

And to dream doesn't mean we expect that dream to happen exactly as we want it to. To dream is not to say 'This is the way the world will be one day'. But it is to say 'This is the way I want the world to be, so let's do everything we can to get as close to that as possible.'

And dreams take a long time to come to fruition. Martin Luther King Jr's dream has come a long way. But has his dream been realised in every aspect? I would say no. It still has some way to go.

I would say that dreams have to be unrealistic. If we're dreaming of a world that seems possible, then we're not dreaming big enough. And yes, if our dreams are too big and too unrealistic, then we may have to wait a long time to see them come true (and they probably won't come true in our lifetime). But if we make our dreams too little, then we're limiting the potential of what this world might become.

When Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God, it sounded like the kind of big, unrealistic dream that will never happen. Two thousand years later and it still hasn't happened. But that doesn't mean we stop dreaming (and hoping) for that Kingdom of God. It's a dream worth pursuing. And dreams worth pursuing need to remain dreams for however long it takes.

Furthermore, while the Kingdom of God may not be here, we know it is coming and we know it is already happening. The Spirit of God is at work bringing us to that future and bringing that future to the present. It may sound like just a dream. But as Christians, we have the awesome privilege of being part of that dream and helping see that dream happen.

When we believe in a God who is at work in the world, bringing everything to its final consummation, then we realise that dreams really will come true. And we know they are already coming true - right here and right now.

So what gives me hope for Australia? The fact that there are Australians who are dreaming. There are Australians who are imagining a better world. And there are Australians who aren't prepared to just close their eyes and fantasise about this better world, but are actively working to make that world a reality.  

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