The Dark Side of Dream-Seeking

We humans enjoy putting our talents to good use. I like to feed my creative side by inventing fun activities for the children at my school. It’s exciting to see my original ideas blossom into meaningful experiences for the kids. But, it’s not all sweetness and light. I hate to admit how many times I’ve snapped at a child who happened to interrupt me while I was self-importantly rushing around setting up my latest project. I doubt that God is pleased when I care more about showcasing my cleverness than about the welfare of the children I’m supposedly serving.

Our imaginations and ambitions, like all of God’s gifts, can be used either for good or for evil. Self-fulfillment cannot be, must not be, our ultimate purpose.

In our physical bodies, cell division is life-giving when it happens at the right time, in the right way, to serve the purposes of the tissue. Random, unrestricted cell division causes damage. A similar principle applies on the spiritual level. Our drive for self-fulfillment, untethered from moral absolutes, leads to destructive thoughts and behaviors. For example, athletic ambitions, if properly channeled, foster hard work, self-discipline and courage. But, when winning becomes an end in itself, the athlete is tempted to take shortcuts by cheating, using steroids or sabotaging competitors.

Even the kindest, most generous dreams can go awry when the donors’ desire to “give” is not tempered by diligence and good judgement. Here’s an example from a clean water project in Cambodia:  Philanthropy Gone Wrong.

On a much larger scale of tragedy, we should not forget the disasters caused by idealistic reformers who have forced their utopian visions onto entire populations, excusing theft and murder on the grounds that their goals were noble. These misguided leaders used their dreams as the measure of morality, instead of the other way around.

Christians ask daily for the kingdom of heaven to be made real, here on earth. This is the Dream of all Dreams. It inspires us to try to reflect God’s love within our own spheres of influence. But even this lofty dream can go bad, if we let the ends justify the means. We mustn’t forget that the prayer’s exact wording is, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” It’s not our job to create heaven. Our job is to obey the Creator of heaven.

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