Have you ever had someone sit you down and tell you that they believed in you and that they thought you could do great things?
It doesn’t happen often (at least not to me; you might get these kind of talks every other day), but when it does, you feel
ten feet tall like you can do anything ready to go out and conquer the world
There really aren’t words to describe it that don’t sound incredibly cliché, but the feeling that someone believes–really, truly believes–in you is kind of overwhelming. And wonderful.
You leave feeling great, but also thinking, “Wow–I hope I can live up to that!” Sometimes, years later, I want to go back and just ask, you know? “So how did I do? Did I turn out as great as you thought I would?”
But then again, I kind of don’t…because maybe I don’t want to know the answer.
I like to call those talks the “I have big dreams for you” speech. I vividly remember such talks from my father, in his ongoing bid to keep his teenage daughter’s ego up as she battled through high school, while we sat on the back porch of our trailer. And one time in high school, my brother gave me such a talk while we sat across from each other at the kitchen table, his eyes full of tears and his hand clutching mine.
Because I have gone on to give such talks to various teens, I understand my brother’s emotion in the moment. You feel like you have a vision of what this person could be, and you want so desperately for them to see that vision, to see their potential for themselves.
Usually, the “I have big dreams for you” speech is loosely organized into two parts. Part one is, “I think you’re great, and here’s why.” Part two is, “I think you can do great things with that.” Sometimes one part gets more air time than the other, and there is a wide range of specificity in the delivery…but the basic concept is the same. The overall message is: I love you, and I’m excited to see how you are going to turn out.
If you have never received some form of the “I have big dreams for you” speech, well, then first of all, shame on your mentors. Secondly, I have good news: you are about to hear daddy of all “big dreams” speeches.
And it’s for you, as a member of Christ’s church.
It’s not just from anyone, either. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I can give some pretty good “big dreams” speeches, but let’s be real: would you care that I think you have great potential?
But what if the dreamer was Paul? Like, the guy who wrote Ephesians? What if he thought that, as a part of the body of Christ, your potential as a human was mind-blowing?
What if it was Paul sitting across from you at the kitchen table, with his eyes full of tears and his hand clutching yours, while he looked at you and said,
You have been “blessed…with every spiritual blessing” (Eph. 1:3).
You have been chosen “before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (Eph. 1:4).
You are part of a church that is Christ’s “body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (Eph. 1:22-23).
God has “raised [you] up with Christ and seated [you] in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to [you] in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).
You were “created in Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for [you] to do” (Eph. 2:10).
You are “a fellow citizen with God’s people and member of God’s household” (Eph. 2:19).
As part of the church, you “are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (Eph. 2:22).
God’s “intent was that now, through the church [like, the one you are apart of], the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” (3:10).
“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (3:17-19).
God has given you gifts “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (4:12-13).
While “speaking the truth in love, [you] will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is Christ” (4:15).
As a Christian, you have a new identity, one that is “created to be like God in true righteousness in holiness” (4:24).
Wow! That is incredible! Can you believe that Paul thinks that about you?
Now, you might be sitting there thinking, “This is bunk. Paul didn’t write this to me. He wrote this to the Ephesians. This is bad exegesis.” To which I will respond maturely, “Your mom is bad exegesis,” before I theorize that because of Ephesians’ impersonal nature, it is believed to be a circular letter to be sent to lots of churches*. That would make its message much more general to all believers…which includes you, my friend:)!
So…if this isn’t bunk, what are you…scratch that, what are we to do with those words? On the one hand, Paul’s words give me confidence. They make me feel very equipped. I have every spiritual blessing! I was created with a purpose! I am part of a big, huge, dramatic plan to show God’s power to the world!
On the other hand, I kind of think, “Wow, I hope I live up to that.” I mean, what does it even mean to “be filled to the measure of the fullness of God” or to “attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”??? Whenever I try to answer that question, I just stammer incoherently for a few minutes and then fall back into silence. So if I cannot even grasp the end goal, how the heck am I supposed to reach it?
The beauty of Paul’s letter, though, is that I don’t have to. All of these blessings are through Christ. All of the plans are God’s. It is God who creates me, who transforms me, who plans my “good works.” I just seek. And follow. And worship. And then…Paul’s big dreams happen.
Paul has big dreams for you…because God does. God dreams as one “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” And even though I can’t even grasp such dreams, my prayers are with all of us as they come to pass.
Other than from Paul, have you ever received (or given) the “I have big dreams for you” speech? Do you find such talk inspiring or intimidating?
*see Carson and Moo. (probably not how I should cite that)