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Substance (3) – Saying Goodbye

Last week I wrote about how the world has become more “worldly”. This is in large part due to the fact that technology addicts us to the shallowest experiences of human instinct and self-gratification.

Yet if we are to follow Jesus we need to say goodbye to all other paths, to all the lesser things that numb our cravings for greater things. Yet we are not to leave the world. We are to be completely set apart from the world in godliness, while being entirely embedded in the world for its redemption. To do this we need to discern the ways in which the world is subtly influencing us.

How are we subtly influenced by worldliness? Gibson asks us to consider the idea of dreams. According to him, our obsession with pursuing dreams is borderline insane. We often don’t consider whether our dreams are worth pursuing (and most dreams are very shallow, centered on ways to gain us recognition or happiness). We also have a tendency to fixate on our precise dream in a way that inhibits us from pursuing the good opportunities God puts before us.

Instead of specific dreams Gibson encourages us to develop “imaginations”. Imagination helps to create possibilities that can be easily discarded. This allows us to expand our mental horizons of what is good and worth pursuing without being debilitated when things don’t work out as we plan (and they rarely do!!!).

Ultimately, if we are to grow as people we don’t need a “dream”, we need to know and obey God’s revelation. We need a character formed God, not our own subjective, personal dreams. Think about Joseph: God used Joseph’s character to bring about his dream. Dreams and visions are good exercises, but bad gods. Without profound substance they tend to be unrealistic, narcissistic, self-important messes of idealism run amok that disappoint us, debilitate our expectations, and hurt others. They tempt us to use sin and worldly means to bring them about

Self-esteem or self-worth is another false pursuit that has influenced many of us. The type of self-worth we have and how we acquire it and the kind of character to which it is bound determines whether self-esteem will be a good thing or a bad thing. Kids with high self-esteem bully, get pregnant, do drugs, commit crimes, and so on at the same rate as young people with low self-esteems. Our self-worth must come from a larger truth about both selves and worth. And this truth is not found in this world.

We must decide if we are going to manage our image or develop a character that deserves approval. The two are exclusive. To build our lives on the image we construct is to build a house out of sand that will inevitably come crashing down. But when we seek God He works in things we cannot control to build the type of character that we need to accomplish His plans and purposes, purposes that both glorify Him and work for our good and the good of others.