The Power of the Ideal

Joel 2:28.---' Your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.'

We dream our dreams and see our visions, but how can we make them come true? The only answer is, to get beyond ourselves. Selfishness is the greatest enemy of idealism. We see the different views of human life in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. The first is the view illustrated by the thieves who stripped the unhappy traveler and left him naked and bleeding by the road. Its jungle-philosophy is briefly this: "What is mine is mine, and what is yours is mine, if I can get it." An outworn creed, you say? but it still has a great hold upon our world, a world which seems a struggle for the survival of the fittest. And the second view is that of the Priest and the Levite, who passed by on the other side: the legal view: "What is mine is mine, and what is yours is yours, if you can keep it." The Jews of Jesus' day had outgrown the robber-theory of life, but they had not yet escaped from the purely legal. And so He taught them the great Christian ideal, the Good Samaritan's view of life: "What is yours is yours, and what is mine is yours, if you need it." Sacrifice and service---these are the keynotes to His teaching.

And also to His example. when our Lord took our flesh upon Him He emptied Himself of ever power He might have used, every art or artifice that might have helped His cause, and He trusted simply to a dream. What was His dream? In the first place, He declared that this world of ours, this sinning, foolish world, may be saved and redeemed. He dreamt that: and it was His only weapon in winning His Kingdom. That is why He lived: that is why He died. It is fashionable nowdays just to call it a dream and be done with it. Well may we call it only an impractical dream, as we think of murder, the drunkenness and lust, the war and the passions of the nations, the degrading temptations that stand unreproved. A redeemed world! What a foolish dream for the twenty first century, and yet that dream must sit uncrushable in the heart of Christ's true Church. It is what every idealist is dreaming nowadays. He thinks, for instance, that new social measures will do it, Acts of Parliament, and social reconstructions. These are all good dreams so far as they go, but we know that in Jesus it is only as the world's heart is redeemed from sin and vice, that the new world will ever come.

Our Lord dreamed also another dream---that our frail lives, with their petty tragic passions and their stains and their unholy follies, may be made perfect, may be made like God's! That is what He dreamed; and if we can only arm ourselves with this dream we shall be irresistible.

When Jesus is going to wash His disciples' feet at the Last Supper, it is said that He does this action knowing that ' He came from God and went to God.' What words are these! ' He came from God and went to God '---are not the dream and the vision there, the God behind Him and the God before?

Here is the strength of this great prophecy; the thing it prophesies is already on the earth. It shines supremely in Jesus. It shines in many an exalted soul.

In Christ, timothy, maranatha