In 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his famous speech standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial entitled “I Have a Dream.” It was indescribably awesome! One of the strongest statements he made was:
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” …I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Not all of his dream has been completely fulfilled, but great progress has been made. The election of the first African-American president Barack Obama was a clear indication of just how far our great nation has come. Although I do not agree with many things he espouses, no one should be disqualified or have limited opportunities because of their ethnicity, religious preference, or mere difference of opinion. Personally, I believe that a good leader will abide by the guiding principles that our nation’s founders clearly understood and knew must govern our decisions, practices, and policies. They must be consistent with biblical truth and Judeo-Christian ethics.
What I would like for every reader to consider is the fact that Jesus Christ also shared a dream, a hope and a prayer. I have frequently said on LIFE Today, “If you want to see your prayers answered, seek to be an answer to someone else’s prayers.” Betty and I at this point in our lives and during this 50-year journey together in marriage have come to the conclusion that we would be very wise to spend the rest of our lives seeking to be an answer to Jesus’ prayer. We will be encouraging others to do the same.
Just days prior to His crucifixion, Jesus prayed and expressed His dream and heart’s desire:
- He wanted His followers to be one with the Father as He was.
- He emphasized the importance of being sanctified in truth.
- He prayed that we would be perfected in unity to such a degree that we would be an expression of His character and will as a living organism, actually His body, connected to one another and submitted to the head – Christ Himself.
Permit me to touch on each aspect of His dream. He prayed that we would be one with the Father as He is. Jesus kept His eyes fixed on the Father and His heart continually seeking to do His will. He didn’t move until He saw the Father moving. He looked where the Father looked. He was sensitive to the Father’s concerns and always responded in the fullness of time. Believers will never be sanctified by truth and perfected in unity with one another if we are not first committed to oneness with God the Father which is made possible through the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. When I understand my relationship with the Father, I then grasp what it means to be family. If I love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, I do not have a problem loving my neighbor. I may not like some of their practices, tendencies, or agree with all of their beliefs, but I will love them with the love of the Father because of the harmonious relationship I have with Him.
The process of sanctification in truth requires a better understanding than some professing believers seem to have. It is progressive; it is not instant. Everyone’s journey toward truth and living according to truth will differ, just as the unity He prays for is by no means is an indication of the need to be the same because God is a God of distinctiveness, diversity, and difference. This is the beauty and uniqueness of His creation and the special relationship we can enjoy together. We must consider truth with a child like spirit and faith as yielded clay in the hand of God. We also must be as anxious to learn from others as we are to share the aspects of our own journey of discovery.
I am convinced there is a prevailing spirit of divorce that is easy to observe in far too many marriages that have come apart both outside the family of faith and within the Christian community. When people disagree, rather than working through it and observing the meaning of the proverb that says, “Iron sharpens iron,” people bludgeon one another with the truth. It is like bringing knife blades head-on together and dulling both, rather than coming with an angle, committed to pursuing truth where both edges are honed so that we become keener, sharper, and wiser. This tendency has slowed the growth of the Christian community from the moment Jesus prayed. The enemy has fiercely assaulted people in their pursuit of truth and those who are convinced they have found truth often tend to be unloving, impatient, unkind, and filled with the strife that Paul warned about when comparing the fruit of the Spirit with the fruit of the flesh. Take note that he equated strife and dissension, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, and factions as evil like drunkenness, carousing and other immoral, despicable acts. Paul told the Corinthian believers, “I cannot talk to you as mature people, but rather as babies because you are still walking after the flesh.” Even after Peter’s great confession, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” this is exactly what happened when he refused to accept everything Jesus said concerning the future and His death. Jesus rebuked him, “Satan, get thee behind me! You are an offense. You are thinking like mere men rather than a child of God.” Such has been the case with many who have heard God, who discovered the truth in glorious ways, and yet suddenly began to manifest the spirit of the flesh acting and speaking what Satan communicates.
Horrible unkindness is continually manifested by some who profess to know God and truth. That is why it is so critically important that however right we believe we are, we always “speak the truth in love.” This does not mean that we cannot be bold or firm, for God certainly is when it is necessary. We can make the point with deep conviction, but it must also be expressed with loving compassion, seeking the best interest of every party.
Jesus prayed that we would be perfected in unity. This is also a process. When two people get married and they become one flesh and are committed to one another, they have not reached the level of maturity and unity that should come in their pursuit of God and His will. They will grow together into oneness that is obvious to them and will be clearly observed by others. I am convinced spiritual unity is far more important than most believers have ever imagined. That is why Jesus focused on it in His prayer for His followers and disciples. He knew that through unity, the world would know we are in fact truly His disciples. The way we express our love for one another is a clear indication to the world of our love for God and the miraculous effect of that power working in us. For many years, Betty and I have watched believers joyfully joining together in spite of differences to reveal the love of God by sharing Christ, supporting missionaries, caring for orphans, feeding the hungry, drilling fresh water wells, setting captives free and restoring broken hearts and lives.
In Ephesians 4, Paul firmly emphasized the importance of “seeking diligently to preserve the spirit of unity in a bond of peace.” This means it’s going to take effort. It requires a commitment and determination like Billy Graham recommended to me years ago. It had a totally transforming effect on my walk with God. He said, “I highly suggest you spend time with people you’ve been taught to avoid.” Not only was I changed by this practice, but the people I began to relate to whom I had been taught to avoid (most of them for theological differences) were also changed. All of us for the better and God’s glory! I am witnessing people coming together to find common ground to address common concerns for the benefit of all. As this happens, we will begin to witness the light of God’s love and truth piercing the darkness and we will become the “city set on a hill that cannot be hidden.” We will be standing together, connected, submitted to God and exposing the works of darkness with truth and love. If only believers could learn what every married couple has to learn – discovering truth, applying it, and living it out requires time, commitment, and submission to one another as unto the Lord. We cannot fight, split, and divorce every time we find a point of disagreement. We must maintain the commitment while refusing to sacrifice God’s command to love Him and love one another.
So many people are convinced if they find a point of disagreement as it relates to biblical truth they are going to be compromising if they continue to communicate or even be seen with that person. This is tragic. It is short-circuiting the will of God and preventing the hope, dream, and prayer of Jesus being fulfilled. Perhaps there is no greater compromise than failing to be an answer to His prayer and not becoming one with the Father as He is. We must allow the process of sanctification in truth, “washing with the water of the Word,” and “the renewing of our mind” to occur over time. In so doing we can be perfected in unity so that the edifying effect of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers in the body of believers will lead us to be “built up into the fullness of the stature of Christ.” This is the dream of Jesus and I want to be part of seeing His dream fulfilled and His prayers answered!
 http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm  Galatians 5:19-21  1 Corinthians 3:1-4  Matthew 16:23