“Some see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not?”--George Bernard Shaw
One of the greatest challenges that Jesus seems to have encountered with his disciples was a lack of imagination. He used parables and illustrations to explain his vision of the Kingdom and expand their perception, but their responses were often tied to the old paradigms; for example, “Who will sit on your right hand and your left hand the kingdom of God?” (see Matthew 20:20-28)
Although Jesus built upon the Hebrew teachings about the Kingdom of God, they only provided a beginning point for him. He was not interested in the preservation of the Temple in Jerusalem and its sacrificial practices. He was not concerned about elevating the people of Israel to the top rung of civilization. He could care less about the place of Israel in the world economy of the day. Jesus was invested in fulfilling the promise of God to Abraham that through his lineage “all nations on earth would be blessed.” (Genesis 18:18)
Jesus was not changing the game but expanding its reach. The Kingdom would not just be made up of the faithful of Israel but anyone who accepted an invitation to follow its Lord. As you can imagine, some people did not like the changes that Jesus envisioned.
Even so today, believers are both strengthened and hindered by the paradigms for ministry they have embraced. The way we have always done things is so attractive, reassuring, and “so right” that we have a difficult time accepting that this is only one expression of the Kingdom and perhaps God has something better in store for us, something more effective for our day.
One role of the Spirit of God is to nurture and stimulate our imaginations. Peter’s quotation from the prophet Joel in Acts 2:17 affirms this: “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” (NIV)
How open are you to listening to the voice of Spirit and dreaming new dreams for the Kingdom?