About a decade ago, there was an award-winning television show I really liked on the old PAX TV channel. It was called Hope Island and ran from 1999-2000.
The critically-acclaimed series was about a young minister who was sent to the Pacific Northwest to fix up an old church and restore a ministry that had been neglected for 30 years. It featured a cast of distinct and unique characters who somehow came together under the young man’s leadership and how a wonderful sense of community was restored under the guidance of the Lord.
I believe this is a dream that many believers have—to live within a loving and accepting community that allows each person to walk in the fullness of what God created them to be without any religious pretext or close-minded attitudes.
We must continually remind ourselves, as if we needed reminding, that our churches are not very close at all to the original model created by the Lord, and also remind ourselves that we keep perpetuating a false model that does little compared to the prototype.
In fact, we have become quite comfortable with much less than the best and resist any real change with a passion.
But God still knows our hearts. And He knows we are really not so happy but possibly merely satisfied with an essentially dead routine that never changes. Christians are some of the worst people on the planet regarding change for the better, and are ever fearful of some such calamity or losing control.
But the young minister discovered that the paradigm he was taught in ministry school simply did not work among the people of his new flock and that he must do things differently if he would reach them and allow the Lord to bless their lives.
This is something that has always been on my heart, that we might do as the people of the show did in this regard, and begin doing things the Lord’s way.
We forget that the Lord’s way is off the map. We read the Gospels but refuse to see that His way flew in the face of established, traditional religion. It is because His way is the right way as opposed to our structured and their structured dead religious ways.
His way is the way of the heart.
He was and remains all about reaching us on a heart level and setting us free from whatever bondage we happen to find ourselves within, especially religious bondage. He shows us that there is a way to have our hearts set free and fulfilled while also walking in holiness with Him. He wants us to be filled with His joy to overflowing and His faith to the nth degree.
And it is not at all that difficult to achieve.
The reason so many people liked that show and were saddened to see it cancelled was because it spoke to their hearts about what Christian community could and should be.
Last night I happened to see if I could find it posted anywhere and actually discovered part of one show. And it blessed me. The young man had been given a great opportunity to leave Hope Island and secure a “better” ministry position at a big church with much greater perks and position. He had decided to take it since it was obviously “better” for his career.
But then at the last minute he changed his mind. One particular individual was devastated by the news, telling him in so many words, “You come here and enter our lives and we all fall in love with you and then you leave us?” The people in the small locale needed someone to help bring them closer to God and one another, and he had done that, but did not realize how much of an impact he had made.
He decided to stay.
I must confess, after all these years, I maintain an idyllic dream of actually doing what this fictional young man had done. I long to be part of an eclectic ensemble of real people trying to be real Christians free of all the trappings of the usual Christian dead order and decorum, where people are often bored to tears and don’t know it, and whose hearts are rarely touched or fulfilled.
How long must we persist in, “Just do what you’re told. That’s the way we do things here and we ain’t changin,’” and how long must we wait to decide on taking a chance at having real life with the Lord?
Hope Island is a mere fictional account of what some people did to love one another under the Lord’s guidance. Yet it is closer to spiritual reality than that of most churches. Why do we long for such but rarely do anything about creating such a place?
The Lord Jesus wants to touch your heart today and every day. And I want to be a part of that. Are there any others out there who feel the same?
And, as long as I’m dreaming and take literally the words of the Lord about all things being possible, is there any potential Christian community in the Pacific Northwest that might appreciate someone to help bring it to pass?
Must Hope Island remain a mere myth?
© 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
Posted on August 20, 2012, in Current Events and tagged All Things Are Possible, Book of Acts, Christian Community, Hope Island, Lord Jesus, Real Christianity, The Way of the Heart. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.
I am reminded of a statement my department head made to me after I had struggled several weeks over a decision of what job I would pursue after graduate school (God blessed me with a choice of three opportunities). Once I had decided, my department head made the statement “I don’t know why you took so long to decide; you could do what you wanted to do in any of those locations.” At first this made no sense at all to me; yet on reflecting, I believe it was a true statement. Really, as followers of Jesus, our job is to love Him and our neighbor where ever the Lord sends us.
I applaud your “dream” of teaching and shepherding a small group. Certainly, Joseph was gifted by God to do just that. Think about it as you reflect on his story: a prophetic dreamer; his jealous family; left for dead in a pit; slavery; imprisonment; trusted servant; the Kings Court; and, yes, full circle to a penitent family… In all of this he remained faithful… In all of this there were many small group settings.
Under the love and guidance of the Great Shepherd, Joseph lived out his dream. In the process, God faithfully used horrible circumstances for good. Despite all the bad things that happened to Joseph, his experiences were used to save the lives of many, many people. May we do no less… As you say, with God all things are possible. May I encourage you to live out your dream, with the caveat, “Any Dream Will Do.” Our calling is to remain faithful to His calling wherever He chooses to provide opportunities to serve. May we have many New Beginnings.
Thanks, Podner. I believe it’s both. We are to “be ready in season and out of season” and do our best to handle any situation in any location. Joseph did this while he was essentially homeless for thirteen years while continuing to prepare for his life’s work. It could be said that the apostle Paul remained homeless throughout his career. But there must be a place within the Kingdom and this earth’s geography we can call home.
SIGN ME UP!
I don’t know how you do it Brother, but you somehow reach in and pull out from my mind & heart the inner thoughts and passions that reside there. I have for years prayed to the Lord that He bring others into my life whose hearts bleed like mine for Him. And He has done just that… For such a time as this. Thank you!
I find myself searching & searching for a place to call home. And every place I arrive I think “I just want to go home & this isn’t it.”
So now… if you or I happen by the Spirit to stumble across “Hope Island” first, let’s agree to share this paradise on Earth with the other. Ready, Set, GO…
Until that day… THANK YOU JESUS, who makes all things possible.
Thank you for the great comment. I don’t have any doubt that most real believers long for home in the here and now while looking forward to their eternal home. How often is it that a church service ends and we leave unfulfilled and longing for more? Home is where the heart is, and for the real Christian that place is with the Lord in His spiritual kingdom on earth.
Yet, is not the Lord all about building spiritual communities? Many churches simply do not qualify. A real “church” or community of the Lord Jesus is a place where He has total control and authority. And as you know, when He is in control, LIFE happens! Consider the great outpourings and awakenings throughout history when the Lord brought a powerful newness and freshness to us. This is what real Christians long for: More of the Lord!
Church as usual is one of the most boring things on the planet. Life in the Lord is regenerating and wonderful, and answers greatly our need for HOME. The good news is that it is coming on a national scale and there is nothing the enemy can do about it. Keep praying and looking up. Your HOME is almost HERE.
A message from my past that still remains vibrant in my memory….praise God
Great post Bob! May God grant you the desires of your heart for a “Hope Island.” Whether it is a place He leads you to find or a place He leads you to begin. Romans 8:15ff from the Message Bible:
“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike ‘What’s next, Papa?’ God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are.”
May He touch you with a fresh fire anointing like never before and show you “What’s next” in your journey to “Hope Island!”
Love you Brother, Tom
Thank you, Tom. I appreciate it. You have spoken a direct Word of confirmation…
I am raising my hand saying, “I do!” I came very close to this at The Summit, the church I attended this year before heading down to TX…longing to find another home like you describe! 🙂