George and Lennie had a dream. A dream of a little place of their own, with their own bedrooms, kitchen, livestock, and crops. A place where they could live off the fat of the land and where no one would bother them.
This dream was real to one and a fantasy to the other. Yet it sustained them both. Kept them focused on their current task.
And it was infectious. As they shared their dream with barley buckers and ranch hands, those guys wanted a slice too. They wanted to be part of something special. And to them, it was nearly heavenly.
One ranch hand was willing to pay the majority of the cost just to belong. Another, a black man, was willing to help for free just so he could reap what he sowed.
Even the owner’s wife, the only girl on the ranch, had a desire to be part of George and Lennie’s dream. For her, she wanted to be part of a group that lived life and took care of each other.
Steinbeck’s story was set in the 1930’s, during the Great Depression. During that time, people didn’t have grand dreams – certainly not 40 of them. But they had this longing.
Even amidst the struggle for food and money, people had a longing to belong.
And today is no different. The longing is still there. It may manifest itself in different ways, but it has never dissipated.
And it never will.
Because the longing isn’t to have a small place we can call our own or to live off the fat of the land or to tend the rabbits.
The longing we have is to belong. To belong to something bigger than ourselves. To belong to something grand. To belong to something that lasts. Forever.
And we’re going to fill this longing – somehow, someway.
And this is where the church needs to be. Filling those longings with the only fulfilling thing – Jesus Christ.
Churches try to meet this need. We even throw “Community” in our titles so you’ll have no doubt. But are we really meeting this need. Or are we just masking it?
If we’re making people feel welcome and comfortable and at home, we’ve accomplished one goal. Yet if we never offer the ultimate answer – Jesus Christ – then we’ve only duped ourselves. And even worse – we’ve duped those in need.
The dream is infectious – like water to Gizmo – but if we as a church don’t offer Jesus Christ in full, then we are adding to the problem, not solving it.
And that may be worse.
In the end, George and Lennie’s plan was based upon the efforts of themselves and they never made it to their little slice of heaven. In fact, things actually got worse.
Because they shared their dream, the girl got carried away and was killed by Lennie. Lennie was then shot by George as he tried to protect him – and himself.
So – your choice. Fulfill eternal dreams. Or feel comfortable.