Sermons

Summary: We are either dreamers or detractors, but God will use both. Whatever is worth doing begins as a dream; and the dreamers redeem the detractors. There will always be ministry to do.

The world is made up of two kinds of people. The dreamers and the detractors. Dreamers and detractors.

Dreamers look at the world as it is, and see new possibilities. Detractors look at the world and see nothing but disaster. Dreamers look at the world as it is and know it can be better. Detractors look at that very same world and are weary of it, believing that nothing can ever be different. We are either dreamers or detractors.

Dreamers look at their own lives and imagine what they could become. Detractors count their three-score-and-ten and wonder if they can manage the boredom until it’s all over. As for God, God uses both dreamers and detractors. God sends dreamers into the toughest, most dangerous, most unyielding spots, where often they suffer and get hurt. And God, in His wisdom, sends detractors to places of peace and quiet, for a while. But only for a while.

For it always works out that the detractors need the dreamers to rescue them, not the other way around. The detractors, the negative, nay-saying, play it safe, take no risks, kinds of folks, they are the ones who in the end need the help of the risk-takers and the dreamers.

Thank God our church has a healthy share of dreamers. And if it also includes some detractors, well, then, I hope today to convert you and win you over! I hope to move you out of peace and quiet into the turbulence of danger. I hope to get you away from tending flocks in Canaan’s fair and happy land; I want to send you out into Egypt. Why? Just because there’ll always be an Egypt. That’s enough.

The young man was known as a dreamer. In his visions he often saw himself in a place of leadership. He imagined that others around him would recognize that leadership. He supposed that his brothers would acknowledge his superior gifts, his far-ranging intellect, his courageous heart. This young man was a dreamer; he thought thoughts and dreamed dreams that seemed too large by half. They were dreams of leadership and visions of making a difference.

But he was surrounded by detractors. One day his dreams became too much. They were offended by his vision of leadership. And so they plotted against him, to destroy this dreamer. Listen to the story of Joseph:

Genesis 37:1-14, 18-20,28; 45:4-8a; 50:20

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Everything worth doing begins as a dream in someone’s heart. And if to ordinary folks that dream seems immature, if that dream seems misdirected, if the more cautious of us wish the dreamers would be just a little less enthusiastic, well, I suspect that that is just the price dreamers have to pay.

Everything worth doing begins as a dream in someone’s heart. Joseph dreamed that he would lead his brothers. He had a vision of his father, his mother and all of his eleven brothers acknowledging his ability. And the Bible minces no words when it says that "They hated him and could not speak peaceably of him."

You see, the world is afraid of dreamers and visionaries. The detractors of this world are profoundly threatened by folks who approach life with drive and ambition. The detractors of this world, mired in their own plodding everydayness, cannot stand those who want to go somewhere and be somebody. Detractors don’t care for "uppity" people! So it is no surprise to me that when Joseph’s brothers have finally had their fill of all his youthful visions, they plan to kill him. "They said to one another, ’Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits.’" The world is afraid of dreamers and would love to squash them.

In April of 1968 a gunshot rang out at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis. Its target was a young and visionary preacher, who had marched across this land, refusing to accept what was in order to affirm what could be. A few days later, when Dr. Abernathy preached the funeral sermon for Martin Luther King, his text was this one, "Here comes this dreamer; come now, let us kill him." Dr. King was one of those Josephs who had a dream. But the world fears such dreamers. The world is much more comfortable with detractors.

Takoma Park Baptist Church began, nearly eighty years ago, with a dream. Its vision was rather similar to the one we have used today.

Eighty years ago, they dreamed of an inclusive church. I learned not long ago that the very first sermon preached in this building, given by Pastor William Larue in 1924, was based on the text, "My house shall be a house of prayer for all peoples." Oh, that was long before Dr. King, and long before anyone had mounted a successful challenge to America’s racial habits. But the dream of including everybody was here from the beginning, and when social change came to Washington, and lots of churches were either closing or moving, this church responded out of its dream, and stayed right here. Even though that dream had its detractors.

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