Imagine, if you will, many years ago
God sitting at a large round mahogany table with his
messengers, the angels, casting a vision and discussing the
possibilities of a place such as earth.
On a large white board, God first lays
out his vision for a place called Eden, filled with many
different creatures and vegetation of all kinds. A place of
eternal beauty and rest. A place where order replaces chaos. A
place God says " is good."
Then God goes a step farther and
speaks of a creature called human that would have the ability
to think, to reason, and to be in communication and
relationship with God. Humans would care for all the creatures
of the earth and would be God's children. And God says, "This
is very good."
Coming from a 20-year career in the
business world I can easily envision such a meeting taking
God is laying out his vision of a
better place, a place where humanity can live in relationship
with God for all time. And today God continues to want to
influence all those who will listen and believe that his
vision for us is limitless and far better than the world's
But like many visions, things don't
always go quit as planned. God's vision took a sharp turn when
Adam and Eve sinned, causing God's vision to become blurred.
Then sin and short-term gratification took the place of God's
vision in some folks. God's influence on many became overcome
by the sin and temptation of this world.
But God has never given up on his
vision. And God holds firm to his vision of a better eternal
place even today. God has never given up on what he knows is
the right direction to be moving in. And God has not given up
on us either, thankfully.
As we conclude our celebration of
America's birth this weekend, it is good to be reminded of
what God's vision is for this country and for the world.
Over the years God has allowed
humanity to take many twists and turns along the journey
towards realizing his vision, but the vision of a relationship
with God for all eternity still shines bright.
In his letter to the Ephesians Paul is
reminding his brothers and sisters of God's vision. Indeed he
is reminding us of God's vision. And he begins by reminding us
that in Christ we have all the benefits of knowing God and
being in that relationship that is so important to God.
Paul is reminding us that as humans we
have been chosen by God for salvation, we have been adopted as
God's children, we have been forgiven, we have a special
insight into what eternal life means, we have the gifts of the
spirit, we have the power to do God's will, and the hope of
living with Christ and with all the saints who have gone
before us forever. Paul is telling us what God's vision is for
But to live out God's vision means we
need to totally depend on God. We by ourselves cannot be in
relationship with God; we need God's grace, which manifests
itself in Jesus Christ.
Our salvation is part of God's vision.
We were created to live forever; we were "predestined," in
other words marked before hand to live in a relationship with
God. Not some of humanity is predestined to eternal life, but
all of humanity has been predestined to salvation if we
receive Christ into our hearts and lives. And because of free
will the choice is ours.
In my past career I spent many a day
in meetings discussing vision, strategy, and tactics for
taking a 50-person one-office company, and transforming it
into a worldwide company. And over the years everything we
tried didn't work, but we kept our eye focused on the vision
of becoming a player in the world market. Over a 10-year
period, after a lot of hard work, the vision became a reality,
as we grew to a company of over 1500 people with about 12
There were days when many of us at one
time or another wanted to throw in the towel, declaring this
is too difficult, or we didn't have the resources to pull it
off, and so on. But we persevered and kept our eye on the
vision and just worked to achieve it. We learned from our
mistakes and celebrated our victories.
Along the way I encountered many good
people, developed relationships that I still maintain, enjoyed
a company that cared for its employees, and worked with a lot
of people who were of like mind in wanting to achieve the
Well, like the company I used to work
for, we the Church, have the ability to see God's vision
through to completion, as individuals and / or as a local
church in this community.
We have the opportunity to work hard
for the kingdom, meeting new people along the way, building
new relationships, or perhaps restoring old relationships, for
the sake of Jesus Christ.
I find the summer, with its somewhat
slower pace a good time to visit the effectiveness of our
ministries, to assess how we are doing in supporting God's
vision. And in this process it's also a good time to ask
ourselves some hard questions as we begin to plan our fall
So I pose the following questions to
us today. The first question is, are we as a congregation an
agent of God's vision, or are we simply doing our own thing as
There are churches that embrace God's
vision and spend their time in ministry supporting the eternal
vision. And there are churches that want to provide a place
for worship but aren't interested in doing the other things of
faith. Which do we want to be?
And one of the most difficult
questions that we ought to ask ourselves, and answer honestly,
is if our congregation ceased to exist would anyone in the
community notice? To me the answer to this question tells us
whether we are participants or spectators in God's vision.
If we are to be a church of God's
divine vision then we all have to work together in order to
make God's vision a reality.
How do we do it? First we need to
clearly articulate a vision for this local church that
supports God's vision, a vision the whole congregation can
embrace. Our local vision, if you will, needs to reflect where
we believe God wants us to be over the next 5 to 10 years. In
creating this vision we need to be willing to ask and answer
the hard questions, and to seek God's guidance for how to move
from the here and now, to tomorrow.
In looking at our ministries we need
to ask ourselves, is this something we ought to be doing, or
is it something we do because we always have? Are we spinning
wheels or are we making a difference? Are we winning disciples
for Christ, which is our most important Christian task? As we
move forward we need to capitalize on our strengths and
improve our weak areas. So we need to keep engaging in those
ministries we are called to, and do them well, while not
losing focus on the big picture, the eternal picture.
Clearly we can't be all things to all
people, so we need to look at our opportunities for ministry
and prioritize which ones we will focus on, based on the
leadings of the Holy Spirit.
To determine priorities we must know
how we as individuals are gifted and how we as a congregation
are gifted. Then we need to assess the needs of the community.
Based on these two answers we then need to define the
ministries we ought to engage in. All of this requires active
participation from the entire congregation. If just a few
people work on defining and participating in ministry, before
too long the ministry team becomes burned out and the
congregation becomes stagnant and becomes about going through
the religious motions.
Sometimes a ministry is chosen based
on a perceived need, or because some other church is doing it
and it seems like a neat idea. Or sometime we decide a
ministry isn't for us because we are afraid of taking a risk
or making mistakes. But taking risks and making mistakes is
how we learn.
I'm convinced if we just focus on what
God wants us to do in this community, at this time, keeping
one eye focused on the here and now, and the other focused on
tomorrow, we will not fail. We many encounter some rough
water, but we will not fail.
We can't function with tunnel vision
and expect we will be participants in God's plan. Do we want
to be a church of tunnel vision, or do we want to be a church
of God's vision?
There's no doubt in my mind that God's
vision will be achieved. We already know this to be a fact.
God wins in the end, God's victory has been secured through
the cross. The question is do we want to be active
participants in God's plan until his final victory, or do we
simply want to be bystanders?
This is a question we as a church must
answer honestly so that we can function in the years to come
in a manner that is consistent with the desires of this local
church. In coming months these are the questions the
leadership of this congregation must grapple with, with input
from all who attend this church. Because regardless of the
decisions made, we all need to be together and on the same
I realize I have posed some tough
questions this morning, most of which are difficult to answer,
and perhaps some of the answers may be difficult to face. I
don't have the answers to all the questions I have asked, only
ideas. As I begin my third year with you I look forward to
better defining our vision for the future, and I look forward
to defining better how we can grow in faith to grow God's
But right now, this very moment, or
perhaps in a day or so, what is God saying to your heart? What
direction do you feel God leading you in, and this
congregation in? Be honest with your feelings, because it's in
that honesty where we will find the answers to all these
I believe that God has lifted up this
congregation in this community to be a transforming presence.
And quit frankly, if this community we're a part of is not a
better place because of our presence then we have failed to
fulfill the vision to which God has called us. If the world
isn't a better place because of us, then we have let down
Know that God's desire is for all
people to come to know Jesus, and to enjoy eternal life
through the atoning blood of Christ. This desire of God's
brings eternal and divine meaning to our purpose.
Our purpose is not simply about
becoming a larger congregation; it's about how many people
leave this place on Sunday to transform the community around
If transformation is taking place in
our community our congregation will grow. And if the
congregation grows, more people will leave this place to
transform others, perpetuating God's vision throughout the
You and I carry God's vision within
us. Now what are we going to do with that vision? Amen
Read other messages by Pastor Wade