“Therefore let us not sleep, as others do; but let us watch and be sober.” — 1 Thessalonians 5:6
The Christian dreamer is a rising phenomenon in American Christianity, and a sad blight upon the visible Church. Outwardly, the Christian dreamer seems wide awake to God, but his (or her) mind is elsewhere. He will claim Jesus Christ as his Savior, yet be found with his head in the clouds of fantasy, or asleep at the wheel of his idling discipleship. Often he yawns at the tedium of godly study and service, yet becomes absolutely giddy over the creative handiwork of the human imagination.
Perhaps you have seen this Christian dreamer. If so, you can surely spot his sluggish disposition. Unlike the aroused laborer-in-Christ who feeds on God’s word for the spiritual nourishment to serve, the Christian dreamer will prefer mythopoetic treats to stimulate his intellectual assent of God. He will often feast on the cotton-candy visions of fantasy fiction and movies that best serve his Christian romanticism. With a belly filled with the stuff of dreams, the Christian dreamer is intoxicated by the euphoria of his religious “feelings” and will soon nod off “at ease in Zion” (Amos 6:1).
For now, perhaps, the Christian dreamer’s slumber is undisturbed, but a rude awakening will one day happen when the alarm of God sounds off. According to Scripture, sudden destruction will come upon those in the middle of their peace and security and they shall not escape it (1 Thessalonians 5:3). Likewise for the Christian dreamer, the harsh reality of day will knock him off his fluffy pillow and toss him to his knees in judgment. Startled by his sudden predicament, this wide-eyed sluggard may then be heard to say, “Lord, Lord, do you not know me?” (Matthew 7:20-23).
Considering the deadly fright of the coronavirus pandemic, the violent political turmoil around us, and the increasing persecution of Christians throughout the world, perhaps this rude awakening will come sooner than expected. Then, and only then, will some professing Christians open their eyes and see the unmitigated worthlessness of their so-called “redeemed imagination” to help them escape from the sudden chaos of the real world. Running back to their precious fairy tales and Christian fantasies for a fleeting moment of solace will only delay the reckoning. Eventually, the Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter will utterly fail them. To be sure, reality will sting even more when it smacks them in the face while they look the other way.
Sadly, this may be the only way for the Christian dreamer to finally “get it.” Apollo, Superman, Aslan, or any number of dream-gods cannot save you; but Jesus Christ, the living Savior, can and does. The true disciple of Christ isn’t a dreamer, but a doer. He has denied self, taken up his cross, and followed his Lord and Savior into action. The faithful martyr-to-be, the watchman at full attention, and the compassionate evangelist have no time or inclination for fantasy when they have lost everything in the world because of their bold and unyielding faith in Jesus. In the midst of the fallen world’s spiritual adversities, the supreme importance of active service to Christ makes the pursuit of dreams vain and obsolete, proving it to be fruitless and a thing of sin and idolatry that will burn up like straw in the fiery furnace of trials and persecution.
The noise of this world seems to be increasing to a dizzying pitch: a pulsating babble of glorified sin being loudly trumpeted through the megaphones of this age. Instagram, Google, Disney, and Netflix (among others) are the transmitters of a constant wave of subversive noise that inundates the soul’s receptors with a deafening blast against the truth of God. Without apology, these unholy instruments of digital dissemination have boosted the bass line of idolatry, lust, and pride until it sounds like a catchy pop tune to our tone-deaf society. Is it any surprise, then, that Satan himself is the hidden conductor behind this swelling dissonance?
Granted, you won’t find a Luciferian radio tower rising up through the stratosphere like a grotesque steel-beamed colossus, but one thing is for certain: Satan and his minions are flooding the surrounding airwaves with a high-voltage broadcast of toxic propaganda. Even at this moment, whether your ears are tuned to it or not, a cacophony of rebellious and accusatory rhetoric is being transmitted through the metaphysical air, bombarding mankind with an evil static that often permeates into the inner operations of the mind and corrupts almost every school of human thought.
The Bible certainly confirms this unsettling fact. It is no accident that Paul portrays Satan as “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). The apostle’s inspired wording evokes a fitting vision of Satan and his unseen forces hovering like a menacing swarm under the firmament. According to John Gill, in fact, the people of Paul’s day were quite aware of a supernatural climate filled with a multitude of “noxious and accusing spirits, who fly about in the air.” Likewise, the Pulpit Commentary describes this “power of the air” as a strategic point of operation for winged demons to secretly “exercise a real influence on human souls, and draw them in worldly directions, and contrary to the will of God.”
“The church has lost her testimony! She has no longer anything to say to the world. Her once robust declaration of TRUTH has faded away to an apologetic whisper.” — A. W. Tozer (1897-1963)
In my earlier essay Why The World’s Dark Business Is Booming, I described how the world’s ancient business of moral chaos has grown into a mega-monopoly of soul-crushing power. With its unabated glorification of sin and self, the industry of this world has succeeded in supplying products of discord to the masses in order to ensnare them with a false sense of freedom and protection. Self-agency and temporal security may be the world’s sly promise, but tyranny over humanity is the tragic end result.
Sadly, this evil world conglomerate has come to dominate today’s global market because of one simple fact: It has capitalized on the current devaluation of biblical stock and a depreciation of the Gospel proclamation. The world’s only legitimate competition, the Truth-bearers of Jesus Christ, have too often shuttered their factories of bold witness and settled for a curiosity shop that plies its religious trinkets among the world’s seducing lies, with little awareness of their dangerous compromise.
Looking over this barren landscape of Christian appeasement, one can easily see a massive segment of our population living in spiritual confusion because they believe the world can provide the solution to their struggles. Without truth to guide them, however, they will continue to toil under such satanic delusion. So who is there to help them out of the chaos? Where are the fearless disciples of old who, under penalty of death, reached out to the lost and dared to proclaim truth against the lies of this world? And why are some professing Christians today outsourcing truth to the world’s business, where it will always be retooled into a cheap knock-off for mass consumption?
“To have one foot on the land of truth, and another on the sea of falsehood, will involve a terrible fall and a total ruin.” — Charles H. Spurgeon
Have you noticed that the citizenry of this world, with all our global connectivity and technological advancements, seem to be shifting more and more into a trajectory of chaos and uncertainty? Why is this? Surely in an age of scientific precision and meticulous social engineering, we should be achieving a high level of stability. Yet, obviously from our current state of cultural upheaval and political warfare, we seem completely unable to reign in the darker elements of our nature. A gathering swell of violent rage, fear, depression, and a growing lust for drugs, alcohol, and pornography are tearing at the moral fabric of our society. But why?
Perhaps we should seriously considered the distinct possibility that all the guiding philosophies of this world have unionized to cobble together a central message that drives us into the moral chaos in which we find ourselves. Like a fat-cat global conglomerate, the world and its board of directors have fine-tuned their mission statement and built a business model around it to achieve its vision of complete domination in the marketplace of souls. And like a scheming conglomerate, it has engaged in a massive PR campaign to transmit their corporate message into every mind and heart on the planet.
The following is a hypothetical discourse in which a die-hard “Christian libertarian” is challenged by the biblical standard…
My dear friend! It’s always good to see you, but as you can plainly see, you caught me in the middle of doing one of my favorite things in the world. Of course, I can tell by the troubled look on your face that you’re spiritually grieved by what I’m doing, but frankly it can’t be helped. As a Christian, my conscience is clear in this matter, so I’m completely free to do this. And I don’t have to stop doing it just because you are positioned from a vantage point that sees it as detrimental or sinful in some way.
You don’t believe I have this liberty? Doesn’t it say as much in the Bible? As a Christian, I’m a “free man” (I Corinthians 9:19; I Peter 2:16; Galatians 5:13), and “all things are lawful” for me (I Corinthians 6:12; 10:23). Nobody can put me under some “yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). When I indulge in more worldly activities, I just make sure I do it “in the name of Jesus” or “for the honor and glory of God,” and then it’s completely blessed. (Colossians 3:17; I Corinthians 10:31). The only law I have to worry about is the Christian “law of liberty” (James 2:12), and not your personal rules and regulations.
See? There are numerous passages in the New Testament that prove that I have an exemption from your contrary preference concerning my behavior.
Funny thing, though. You still look… skeptical.
“A grave, wherever found, preaches a short and pithy sermon to the soul.” ― Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Look for a minute into the grave….
Each one of you must die. If I were addressing an assembly of the sages of the world, I should say, “All your combined wisdom cannot lengthen the days of one of you even a single minute. You may reckon the distance of the stars and weigh worlds, but you cannot tell me when one of you will die, nor how many grains of sand are left behind in the hourglass of time which shows the exit of each spirit from the world.”
Now you have so many days and in one of those days there will be the poison of death. I do not know which one. It may be tomorrow. It may not be until many days have gone by. Is it not foolish, therefore, to be living in this world without a thought of what you will do at last?
A man goes into an inn and as soon as he sits down he begins to order his wine, his dinner, his bed. There is no delicacy in season which he forgets to request. There is no luxury which he denies himself. He stays at the inn for some time. By-and-by there comes the bill and he says, “Oh, I never thought of that… I never thought of that!”
I’m sure you’ve seen the phenomenon before. You’re sitting there watching a baseball game on TV when all of a sudden a large sign pops up in the stands behind the batter’s box reading, “JOHN 3:16.” It’s a well-known technique of stealth evangelism and quick-strike Gospel proclamation that’s been around for decades at various televised sporting events. As soon as that sign appears, no doubt thousands of unsaved viewers are sent scrambling for a Bible to see what the hubbub is all about.
But do they really?
It makes me wonder what would happen if someone decided to really shake things up by holding a sign that read (for no particular reason), “HABAKKUK 3:8.” Hoo, boy, I bet a good number of folks would be suddenly Googling THAT peculiar reference on their smartphones — just to get some sort of informational closure. A “John 3:16” sign? Not so much.
The fact is, most folks know the basic gist of John 3:16 because they’ve seen it constantly promoted as Christianity’s go-to catchphrase. They know it’s an advertisement slogan for Jesus as much as “Just Do It” is a pithy salute to Nike. And therein lies the problem. In some ways, “John 3:16” has become just another billboard cliché in a sea of American consumerism that has blended into the cluttered landscape as a benign symbol of conventional Christianity.