This sermon, How to Align Your Dreams with God’s Dreams, is based on Luke 4:18-19. It is the first sermon in a sermon series on creativity called, Drawn In: Living the Creative Life with God. Pastor Dave Clark challenges us to look at how we can fit into God’s dreams for a better world rather than just asking God to fulfill our dreams.
Drawn In, Our new sermon series.
Today we begin our sermon series, “Drawn In,” inspired by Rev. Troy Brosink’s book, Drawn In: A Creative Process for Artists, Activists, and Jesus Followers. Dr. Bronsink looks at what scripture says about God’s creative process so that it may inspire and motivate our creativity. He discerns six “waves” of the creative process.
God’s creativity starts with a dream.
The first wave of creativity is what he calls the dreaming stage. Think of how a songwriter begins with an inkling of a story or emotion to express musically. She then crafts something that expresses all of that.
Similarly, God starts with a dream of a beautiful, interconnected world, constantly unfolding, teeming with the relentless surge of life. God’s deep emotion is love, to make a creation that is love, lovely and loving.
Aligning your dreams with God’s dreams.
The call for us is to align ourselves with God’s dreams of a better, more loving world. Align your dreams with God’s dreams for your life. Things go smoother when we do. A mechanic taught me about alignment, said my wheels were out of alignment. Improper alignment pulled the car too much to the right. He could tell just by looking at the wear on my tires. When our dreams for our lives are out of alignment with God’s, we keep pulling off in the wrong direction, and there is going to be damage where the rubber meets the road. If some part of your life is feeling worn out, threadbare, if you keep having blowouts in one form or another, then maybe you have to look to see if there is something in you that is pulling away from the directions of love and service and kindness.
God didn’t create you to spend your time in worry, anxiety, dreaming of revenge. And God’s dream for you is more significant than building a self-indulgent empire. You are called to participate in greatness, not smallness. God’s dream is for you to have a spectacular life—the best. And as 1 Corinthians 13 says, the greatest is found in that which is the most loving.
What happened to God’s dream?
Look around, and it’s evident that God’s dream for humanity careened and veered off course. People started putting their personal dreams of power over other people and dreams for riches and comforts ahead of God’s dream of love and interconnectedness. Instead of embracing interconnectedness and life, we’ve become masters of divisiveness and death—putting each other down instead of bringing out the best in others, or ourselves.
Jesus offers a course correction.
When Jesus took center stage, he offered a course correction, a path toward re-alignment on how to cut the gap between the world as it is and the world God intended. In our passage today, which is his inauguration speech at the beginning of his ministry, he tells us what he is all about and how to get back on track.
I love how he talked about making this world a better place, especially for people in need. Listen again to Luke 4:18-19.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
As followers of Jesus, we can be about what Jesus was about. Let’s be about good news. Healing. Liberating. Forgiving debts. Extending God’s favor to all. We can be what the Disciples of Christ denomination calls “Agents of wholeness in a broken world.”
Let’s take a deeper dive into what Jesus was talking about so that we can align our dreams and actions with God’s.
First, Jesus said he is here to bring good news. Lord knows we’ve had our fill with bad news. And if we are too consumed with bad news, it shapes us. What we fill our lives with has an impact. That’s why it’s good to take a break from all of that and focus on the good news. That’s what we do in worship. We keep reminding ourselves of the good news. And the good news is we can shift our perspective, moods, and outlook on life when we shift our focus.
Good News for the Poor
Jesus had a heart for those who were suffering. So much of what Jesus said we should be about is taking care of the least and lost. Poverty was rampant in Galilee, and people bought into the lie that wealth was a sign of God’s favor and poverty was a sign of God’s curse. They thought God was against them, punishing them.
In Luke’s gospel, Jesus said, “Blessed are you who are poor.” Jesus came to give them good news. Maybe you are in a time of financial hardship. Hear the good news. Blessed, are you. You may not have much money, but the world is yours, so go ahead and strut around like you own the place—with your chin up. You don’t have anything to be ashamed of. Your worth is not measured in dollars. Your worth is immeasurable. God’s grace is with you and will see you through, and there are resources to help, and you will get through this with what you need, not necessarily with everything advertisers tell you to need, but with the essential resources for living a meaningful life.
As we know, there is more than one kind of poverty. There is a poverty of spirit. The Sermon on the Mount quotes Jesus as saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Maybe this applies to you. You feel a deficit in your spirit and emptiness inside. Jesus came to bring good news to you, too. Blessed are you. When you realize there is a deficit, that is the first step to openness to being filled with the blessings God has in store for you. It’s tough to fill a hard heart. Remember your blessing.
Release to the Captives
Second, Jesus says he came to release the captives. On one level, he was talking about people who have been unjustly sent to prisons, people who stood up and demanded change. In our society, we have many wrongly convicted. Many on death row have been exonerated because of DNA. Many are unjustly put there because of race, or pressured to make false confessions to get a deal or protect their families. Our work should also be to press for fairness and justice and release for those wrongly convicted or unfairly sentenced.
There is a spiritual kind of captivity that may apply more directly to your situation. Ask in what ways am I a captive to a habit or addiction. Maybe you are a captive to patterns of negative thinking, worry, anxiety. Maybe there is something that happened to you that you just can’t seem to get past. Jesus’ agenda and dream is for you to be liberated from anything that binds you. He came to set you free. Refuse to be bound; align your actions with the positive things in the spirit that can set you free—love, helping others, finding a sense of purpose.
Recovery of Sight to the Blind
Third, Jesus talked about the recovery of sight to the blind. He did a lot of physical healing. We know that so much of physical healing is tied to your attitude, positivity. And Jesus demonstrated ways to improve that. It can have a massive impact on your physical health and perspective in life. It doesn’t mean that you will get automatically cured, but it does mean that no disease, no ill health can take away your hope, your ability not to let it turn you into a cranky, bitter defeatist person.
Some of our blindness may be spiritual. The thing about blindness is you don’t know what you don’t see. I remember sitting in an ophthalmologist’s office. I looked up at a color blindness chart on the wall. There were little circles with tiny color bubbles in them, and there were numbers in a different color traced inside the circles. Or only about two-thirds of them for me. I had no idea I had color-blindness. It explained why I was always getting pinched on St. Patrick’s Day when I thought I was wearing a green shirt or pants and people said they were brown.
We can be blind to what another person is going through. Maybe we see someone all angry, but we don’t know what they’ve been through. The experience of so many people in this world is not like your experience. The corrective procedure we need is to pay attention, be in dialogue with people unlike ourselves, and see things from a different perspective. People may appear all happy and smiley on Instagram, but they are just putting up what they want you to see.
2021, The Year of the Lord’s Favor
Jesus talked about announcing the year of the Lord’s favor. It’s a reference to the biblical mandate of a Jubilee year that was supposed to be celebrated every 49 years. Everyone’s debts were canceled, people who had been forced off their land would have it restored. It was a great leveling of the economic playing field. We can advocate for more fairness and opportunity and ways to break generational poverty.
But also, the spiritual side of this is that you can see this year, 2021, as the year of God’s favor for you. God’s favor, blessing is with you. Maybe you saw 2020 as a year of eternal curses. But not this year. You can see yourself as the beloved of God, meant to bust forth from anything that’s bound you and make a difference in the world.
When we apply these principles, align ourselves with these dreams God has for us and our world, we can praise God. In the words of a great doxology song, Let the poor say, “I am rich.” Let the weak say, “I am strong, for what the Lord has done.”