By Gabriel Parker
We’re in a time where the internet isn’t short of resources and personalities pushing us to chase our dreams and encouraging us to be great. Many churches have even adopted these motivational messages centered around you achieving your goals, becoming the best you, and proving your haters wrong while injecting scripture to validate teaching points. This is often done at the expense of twisting the context of scripture to make it seem that your glory and God’s glory are interchangeable. As a result I believe we have taught people how to be great in this life, while we have failed to teach them how to deny themselves(Luke 9:23) and be great in God. My concern is that we are producing people who perform great on stages and platforms, but poorly at producing godly homes and families.
I believe one of the biggest dangers in westernized Christianity, is that many are being conditioned to care more about their gifts and dreams than God’s Word. When searching and rightfully applying God’s word(sound doctrine) in our lives isn’t top priority, it allows us to attach Jesus to any type of ambition and success, even if that ambition and success is self-centered and causes us to compromise truth. This is why secular creators can thank God for their earthly success that results from work that glorifies idolatry and the flesh(Galatians 5:16-26), while professing Christians cheer on. Yet, Colossians 3:2 implores us to set our affections on things above, and not things on this earth, which means to set our desires on what’s important to God above things that are earthly and temporary. When we’re self-centered it’s easy to forget we live to glorify God and not our ambitions. As believers in The Way we must renew our minds daily(Romans 12:1-2, Psalms 1:1-2) because “thou shalt have no other gods before me”(Exodus 20:3-5), can easily become an after thought with mantras like “do you” and “seek your truth” at the forefront of pop culture.
Anything that is more important to us than our personal relationship with Jesus, is an idol. Even things we do in the name of ministry and His name can become an idol. What we do for God should never be viewed as a replacement for our personal time with God. When we fail to realize this, it eventually becomes about our glory and not God’s. We can actually have more zeal to talk about Him than to talk to Him and meditate on His word.
As many embrace their gifts and dreams I believe the prosperity gospel has led many to believe that wealth and success are the true signs of fruit and God’s favor in ones life, though scripture let’s us know that godliness with contentment is great gain(1 Timothy 6:6). Besides, there are plenty of bold Jesus haters who have acquired great wealth and success. This is one of the reasons Jesus said “what does it profit a man to gain the world, but lose his soul?”. If God intended for wealth and success to be the standard for His blessings and favor, Satan would not have tempted Jesus with the Kingdoms of the earth in Matthew 4. It’s important to understand that just as God can give wealth and success, so can the devil, who is the god of this world(2 Corinthians 4:4).
Sometimes the biggest difference between our dreams and the dreams of people used by God in scripture, is that their dreams and inspiration actually came from God(point inspired by Jermaine Wilson). While we can be found guilty attempting to force our dreams on God, the reality is when we try to fit God into our plans it is not the same as submitting to His. God’s thoughts and ways are not like ours(Isaiah 55:8-9). Psalms 37:4 tells us to delight ourselves in the Lord and He will give us the desires of our hearts. When we “delight” ourselves in the Lord it literally means to lay down our desires in exchange for His. The key to trusting God is understanding that He knows best and humbling ourselves to His plan for us(Proverbs 3:5-6, Phillipians 2:5-8). It is the Holy Spirit that leads and guides us into all truth and points us to Jesus(John 16:13-14). So don’t be afraid to have dreams and ambition, just make sure submitting to God’s Word and the Holy Spirit are first priority.