Sermon: "I Too, Have A Dream"
Scripture: Joel 2:28,29; Isaiah 40:3-5, Galatians 5:1; I John 1:1-7
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be drawn together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day, even the sate of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today! ...
I have a dream that one day "every valley shall be exalted and every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places shall be made plain and the crooked places shall be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we shall be able to change the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. And this will be the day. This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning - "My country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." And if America is going to be a great nation, this must become true.
These are of course, excerpts of the "I Have A Dream" speech that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered during the march on Washington on August 28, 1963. Over one quarter of a million people, black and white were gathered. The opponents of the march who had hoped for violence were disappointed. To that date, the march on Washington set a record number gathered for an American city. It was the first time that a civil rights march was held that the police arrested more criminals than civil rights marchers. It was a day of jubilee.
Praise the Lord! Progress has been made in our country toward the realization of King's dream. God is certainly more concerned about the content of our character than the color of our skin.
Today, I want to tell you that I too, have a dream - a dream for you, a dream for me, a dream for our churches, a dream for our brothers and sisters in other churches in Central Iowa, in America, and beyond. As I reread the verses from Joel 2 about God pouring out His Spirit I was wondering whether this would be better categorized as a dream or a vision. "Your old men shall dream, dreams, and your young men shall see visions."
After noticing more and more gray hair, maybe I should stick with the dreams of the old men. However, the dream I share with you today is not a dream I had while sleeping, but a hope, a desire, an aspiration, a prayer that we live as God's Word calls us to live as His people. I want to share some of this with you today.
I too, have a dream a dream characterized by:
We sing, "My country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." This patriotic hymn reminds us of the fact that through our history live have been lost to obtain and preserve liberty, the freedom we so often take for granted.
I don't think that Dr. King took that freedom for granted because even though under the presidency of Abraham Lincoln the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed years earlier, many Negro people were still not free.
Jesus signed a proclamation of emancipation in His blood -dying on the cross to obtain liberty for you and me. Yes, Jesus secured the victory, but are you and I really free - free from the sin that would enslave us? Paul wrote, "For freedom, Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." Gal. 5:1 Jesus said, "If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. ... Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone of you who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not continue in the house forever, the Son continues forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:31,32,34-36.
Ye, my friends, I have a dream of liberty - of God's people set free from bondage to sin. Yet many who claim to be Christians fail to take what God's word says about sin seriously. What does God say? Do not continue to sin or you will be a slave to sin! Isn't that pretty clear?
I have a dream not only characterized by liberty, but also characterized by:
"Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life." John 14:6 While He was the source of life, He also proclaimed life. I John 1:2
My dream of life really begins and ends in Jesus Christ. Until we confess our sins, ask for His forgiveness and cleansing, and trust Jesus as our Savior we cannot experience eternal life and will not be free from sin. While this life is for eternity after our earthly lives end, it is intended to begin when we sincerely come to Christ. Christ offers us eternal life and abundant life, a new quality of life for those who are in Christ.
The Apostle John had come to experience this wonderful life in Christ, he was a witness to this life, and through Christ he had a close fellowship with God and with other Christians. Have you experienced this new life in Jesus Christ? Is the way you live each day characterized by life, a fulfilled Christian life? Does the meaning and purpose of your life focus on Jesus Christ rather than personal pleasure? As a result of your life are others coming to experience new life in Christ?
In addition to Liberty and Light, my dream is characterized by:
John continued to write in I John of light. "This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth, but if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin." I John 1:5-7
Perhaps you are wondering why my dream is characterized by light. You see, light and darkness are in opposition. Light, the light of God's Word reveals sin. For us to be free from sin, enjoying an abundant Christian life, our sin must be revealed so that we can confess it to God and receive His forgiveness. Only then can we really share the victorious Christian life for which Jesus died and rose again to secure for us.
Too many Christians are afraid to allow their lives to be exposed to the truth, the revealing light of God's Word. Otherwise why would so many choose to ignore obvious sin going on in high places in our government? Because of this we are weak, in bondage to sin, and not experiencing real light. Sin stands between us and Jesus, and between us and each other. Some are deluded into believing that they have the privilege of determining right and wrong by looking at society, and even by looking at the church, rather than by the clear teachings of the Scriptures. What is right is not determined by what everyone else is doing. Right is not necessarily decided by the majority decision of people, even by majority decisions of our church boards.
Those of you who have come to really know me, know that my dream, the great longing of my heart is for revival. This light of which I speak is a major ingredient because with revival comes the cleansing of the church, men, women, children, and youth who know Jesus Christ, getting rid of the sin that God's word has revealed in their own personal lives. It must begin here in the church or we have no power to pray for it to spread to others.
This means the characteristic of light includes each of us who have experienced new life in Christ will live in the light of Christ. We will live lives of integrity, not excusing our sin. We will be people of high moral standards, not seeing how far we can bend God's rules that are for our good.
In genuine revival, the church has transforming power in the lives of the lost that enables it to have a positive godly influence on society, too. Jesus calls us to be light in the world. Isaiah 40:3-5
Love, central to the faith we profess, is of course part of my dream. Love that finds it origin in God is not wishy, washy, not mere emotions and sentimentalism.
Go, the Father, demonstrated His love for our lost and dying world by sending His only Son, Jesus Christ, so that all who believe in Him will have eternal life. This is the greatest demonstration of love.
If you have received God's Son as your Savior, as your love gift, what are you doing about it? Do you love your unsaved neighbors, friends, classmates, work associates enough to tell them about Jesus? Or don't you care that they may be headed for a Christless eternity in hell? Do you care enough, love them enough to pray for them, to spend time with them, to share with them what Jesus means to you and tell them how they too, can come to Jesus? I am not suggesting a tactless approach of superiority, but loving people enough, loving God enough, so that at the right moment, led by the Holy Spirit, you are willing to tell them of Christ's love?
My dream is also characterized by love within the local church and between Christian congregations.
Finally, my dream is characterized by:
I began sharing my dream with you this morning by quoting part of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. Under King's direction the Civil Right's movement had a pledge of loyalty for their followers to sign. Listen to what it included.
I sign this pledge, having seriously considered what I do and with the determination and will to preserve.
- Meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.
- Remember always that the nonviolent movement in Birmingham seeks justice and reconciliation - not victory.
- Walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love.
- Pray daily to be used by God in order that all men might be free.
- Sacrifice personal wishes in order that all men might be free.
- Observe with friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy.
- Seek to perform regular service for others and for the world.
- Refrain from the violence of fist, tongue, or heart.
- Strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health.
- Follow the directions of the movement and of the captain on a demonstration.
Then at the bottom of the sheet it said: "Besides demonstrations, I could also help the movement by: (Circle the proper items.)
Run errands, drive my car, fix food for volunteers, clerical work, make phone calls, answer phones, mimeograph, type, print sign, distribute leaflets.
I have taken the time to tell you a little about my dream this morning. I also want to remind you that we are preparing for a church wide adventure, "Daring to Dream Again," and I hope that each of you will make an effort to be with us for worship each week, spend a few moments with daily devotions, and participate in a group study. What are your dreams? Do you share my dream? What are you doing about it?