Happy New Year. Welcome to 2019. I do not think people do resolutions at the scale they used to when approaching a New Year. These days I find more people are thinking of what will be “revealed” this year. Are these revelations going to be good or bad? I like to approach every New Year with a Vision.
An old science fiction film by H.G. Wells called “The Country of the Blind” is about a group of people who live in a valley deep in the jungle in Ecuador where, because of a strange disease, everyone is born blind. They don’t know what it’s like to see. The disease is genetic and the people living in that valley have been blind for many generations, so they have no recollection of sight or color or the outside world at all. To them being blind, living in darkness, was normal. One day a man from the outside world – a man who could see – stumbled into their hidden country. When he realized that everyone there was blind and had no idea what it was like to see, he tried to tell them about sight. He would try to get the blind people to listen to him, but they would not listen to Him or believe him. They thought he was crazy. Well, the man eventually fell in love with a girl (blind of course) and the girl’s father was upset about his daughter marrying this crazy young stranger, so he went to talk to the doctor, who also lived in this land of the blind, about this young man.
The doctor says, in order to cure him completely, all we need to do is a simple and easy surgical operation to remove his eyes! The old man asked, “And then he will be normal?”, and the doctor replied that yes, then he would be a perfectly normal citizen with no vision. “Well, thank Heaven for science!” said the old man. Armed with this “medical knowledge”, the old man told the stranger that he could not marry his daughter unless he submitted to the operation that would cure (blind) him.
Well, the young man was love-stricken, so he decided that he would have the surgery, but on the day his surgery came, as he walked outside that morning, he saw the most beautiful sunrise, and he suddenly realized that it was a good thing to have vision, and to be able to see, but it was the people who had no vision, who were just living blind, that needed to be rescued from the darkness they were living in.
The young man in this story, who had vision, who could see, basically realized the truth of our passage for today, which is Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” I mention all this because I think it gives us a great illustration of the importance of having a vision.
As we look ahead to 2019, the vision of our church should be:
- Clear – so that everyone can understand it
- Concrete – a real & tangible goal for right now
- Concise – short & to the point
- Compelling – it should motivate us to action
One of our goals in an information-overload world should be on “Getting Connected” as a church in three ways:
- Our Connection with God: the Personal Vision that God gives each one of us and how we WORSHIP GOD in our hearts and as a church!
- Our Connection with each other: our fellowship within the church and with each other, as a church family.
- Our Connections with people in the community: our ministry outside the four walls of this church, which we could argue is our most important ministry.
It is one thing for me to have a vision, but if it’s not communicated clearly, or if it’s not accepted, the vision will never become a reality. Just like in this story, there is a danger in trying to instill a vision in others, if other people are not ready and willing to accept it. If people don’t understand the vision, they cannot be expected to accept it, embrace it, or pursue it with passion. It’s not leaders with a vision who change the world. It’s not leaders who try to convince others to accept their vision who change the world. It’s leaders who commit to meeting other’s needs first and can clearly communicate their vision to others who can change the world.
I constantly pray for God’s leading for each one of you as individuals, and for our purpose as a church. I ask God’s help to determine which purpose, or purposes, we need to focus on, and then focus the vision for the next year on working in those areas.
We need to get back to the basics and focus on these three areas:
- Worship (this is not just singing)
- Our ministries outside of the church, which includes outreach.
Whenever you talk about vision, some say: Aren’t we doing these things already? Well, there are several reasons why we need to talk about it:
It’s a proven fact that churches with a clearly-expressed vision are more unified – one heart, one mind, one accord – working together for a common purpose. This unity attracts other people and other believers.
People are drawn to a church that is connected and knows what it is supposed to be doing.
A vision also encourages and motivates us as believers. The most influential leader the world has ever known, Jesus Christ, modeled the idea of casting His vision for His Church for us. It could be said that the entire Bible is a vision-casting book that invites us not only to look ahead to God’s promises for the future, but also to participate in their realization today.
God has granted us the immeasurable privilege of participating in His work, and He offers us “a slice of the action” today that will have enduring, eternal consequences. We were given life and we are where we are today because God has a vision and a plan for each one of our lives.
It is no accident that we are all here together at Koinonia. God willed us into existence, and He not only gave us life, but He also invested in us with promise, potential, and a vision. Within us is the opportunity to join with God in fulfilling the great adventure envisioned in His mind for us from the very beginning of time until eternity.
The book of Acts is the glorious story of Christ’s vision being realized. In Acts 1:8, Luke, the author of Acts, gives us the outline for this chapter through something Jesus told his followers just before His ascension: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” We are active participants in that last phrase, because we are witnesses charged with taking the message of the good news of Jesus Christ “to the ends of the earth…” and it starts right here in our community.
At the end of Acts, Paul is under house arrest. He’s made it to Rome, which was near the ends of the earth in the first century, and he knows that if the gospel takes root in Rome, it will spread all over. And when we get to this last chapter, we wonder what happens next with Paul, but Luke never tells us. What matters though, is that Paul has invested his entire life in helping God’s glorious vision become a reality. And he handed the baton off to men like Timothy and Titus, and they handed it off to faithful men and women who passed it to others. Down through the centuries the baton got passed until someone placed it in our hands today and said, “Go, be His witnesses to the ends of the earth.”
As we go through 2019, we can check and see how we are doing at connecting with God, with each other, and within the community. We can always make adjustments to the vision as need be. But perhaps the greatest benefit of a vision is that it makes it possible for us to focus all our efforts in His direction with one heart, one mind, one accord.
Surely Paul was referring to this principle when he wrote in Philippians 3:13 and said, “I am bringing ALL MY ENERGIES to bear on this one thing—forgetting what is behind and looking forward to what lies ahead.”
Imagine what we can do as a church if we all focus on the vision, if we all focus on our goal, and on improving our connections this next year! And I can’t stress this enough, but every single person who is a part of this church, no matter what you do for this church, is a vital part of this church and is most definitely needed to accomplish our vision, and to accomplish our goals for the future!