I Have a Dream was first published on 8/5/11)
In the Introduction to his 2008 book Reimagining Church Frank Viola writes on page 27:
I have a dream that one day the church of Jesus Christ will rise up to her God-given calling and begin to live out the true meaning of her identity–which is, the very heartthrob of God Almighty–the fiancée of the King of all Kings.
I have a dream that Jesus Christ will one day be Head of His Church again. Not in pious rhetoric, but in reality.
I have a dream that groups of Christians everywhere will begin to flesh out the New Testament reality that the church is a living organism and not an institutional organization.
I have a dream that the clergy/laity divide will someday be an antique of church history, and the Lord Jesus Himself will replace the moss-laden system of human hierarchy that has usurped his authority among His people.
I have a dream that multitudes of God’s people will no longer tolerate those man-made systems that have put them in religious bondage and under a pile of guilt, duty, condemnation, making them slaves to authoritarian systems and leaders.
I have a dream that the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ will be the focus, the mainstay, and the pursuit of every Christian and every church. And that God’s dear people will no longer be obsessed with spiritual and religious things to the point of division. But that their obsession and pursuit would be a person–the Lord Jesus Christ.
I have a dream that countless churches will be transformed from high-powered business organizations into spiritual families–authentic Christ-centered communities–where the members know one another intimately, love one another unconditionally, bleed for one another deeply, and rejoice with one another unfailingly.
I have a dream today. . .
Of course, Frank is adapting here Martin Luther King’s famous speech delivered in Washington, D. C. in 1963. Hearing King’s speech has always moved me deeply. I get watery eyes every time I hear even a small portion of it. I’m also deeply moved by Frank Viola’s version.
I’ve given a huge chunk of my life to see this dream come true. But most of my experiences in the church have been far from the dream. Oh, I feel like I have been to the mountaintop a few times. I’ve had glimpses of what it might be. Just enough to still believe that it could become a reality.
Can the church, you and me, become the soul-giving, life-transforming, covenant community God calls us to be? Can we really learn to practice the priesthood of the believer and unleash the laity as the Bible clearly teaches? Can we all learn to walk the walk as well as some of us can talk the talk?
I still think we can. I’m not giving up because. . . well, because I have a dream today. . .