In this week’s post, we will need to temporarily leave our current topic of Thoughts on the Last Days and return to the topic of ChristianSpeak: Puzzling Things That Christians Say, Pray, and Sing.
It just never seems to end.
Teaching abounds in the Western church about following the dream that God has for your life.
Here are a couple of quotes from the website of a well-known preacher:
“Whoever you are, wherever you are, God has a dream for your life.”
“God created you to impact your world. He sees the great potential He placed within you. Don’t be afraid to receive God’s dream for your life and to pursue that dream with determination, discipline, and integrity. God’s dream for your life will exceed anything you could imagine!”
So, a few questions.
Where in the Bible does it say that God has a dream for our lives?
Where are we taught that we shouldn’t be “afraid to receive God’s dream” for our lives? What does it even mean that I shouldn’t be afraid to receive God’s dream?
Where is the Bible does it say that I should pursue God’s dream with determination, discipline, and integrity?
And, finally, not a question, but a sarcastic comment. I am so happy that “He sees the great potential He placed” within me. Again, what does that even mean?
Where did all this dream talk come from?
I asked a Christian friend these questions when she promoted this dream teaching on a social media site.
She said, “Joseph followed his dream.”
Joseph did have a dream that his father and brothers would one day bow down to him, and it happened. That’s a great dream to follow, isn’t it?
However, how did Joseph “receive” or “follow” God’s dream for his life?
As it turns out, he didn’t “follow his dream” at all.
It just happened to him. Better said, God sovereignly brought that dream to pass, and Joseph had only a small part to play. Because the account about Joseph, his family, and Egypt are not about you or really even about Joseph, ultimately.
It’s about God and His glorious redemptive power and plan.
To start with, Joseph’s brothers sold him as a slave to some Midianite traders. These men in turn sold him as a slave in Egypt. Joseph had nothing whatsoever to do with this. On the contrary, he was a victim of kidnapping and slavery.
When he was serving as a slave in Potiphar’s house (an officer of Pharaoh), he was accused of sexual assault and subsequently thrown into prison. Please note that even though he did the right thing and refused Potiphar’s wife’s advances, he was found guilty nevertheless. How is this following or receiving the dream God gave him?
But didn’t Joseph do a good job in prison? Yes, but read this: “But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (Genesis 39:21).1
And this: “The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the LORD was with him. And whatever he did, the LORD made it succeed” (Genesis 39:23).
Yes, Joseph did a good job in prison. We can assume he was a responsible man and worked with integrity. However, it’s clear that the Lord gave him favor in the sight of the jail keeper and made him succeed. That’s what the Bible says. God was about His sovereign work.
Well, how about the interpretation of the dreams that vaulted Joseph to the heights of leadership in Egypt? Read Joseph’s own words: “Joseph answered Pharaoh, ‘It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer’” (Genesis 41:16).
God sovereignly accomplished everything that happened in the Genesis account of Joseph. Joseph had very little to do with the fulfillment of the dream the Lord gave him. The Lord gave the dream, and the Lord fulfilled the dream.
So, does the account of Joseph in Genesis indicate that “God has a dream for our lives,” or that we are to “receive God’s dream for our lives”?
No. The dreams Joseph had were to accomplish the saving of Israel (Here Joseph is a type of Christ) and bringing his family into Egypt, furthering a redemptive plan for God’s people about which Joseph had little or no knowledge.
The dream teaching abroad today leads us away from a life that focuses on humility and sacrificial living in, with, and for Jesus and brings the spotlight on you. I encourage you to reject such me-centered teaching. I encourage you to think through what men and women teach, as good as it may sound at first.
Be careful. The last days will be thickly populated by false teachers in the Church. Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John all warned about false prophets and teachers. Judge all things. Yes, including what is written here.
1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.