“Without a vision the people perish.” So says the well known verse from Proverbs.
We will die without vision. Churches all over the western world are dying and closing daily for that very reason.
But what, you ask, is vision?
A few years ago, I got so tired of hearing about the need for vision statements, I collected a variety of those statements from a number of large churches across the United States. Most of them had without doubt spent a small fortune on consultants to develop them. And not surprisingly, they were all virtually the same. Maybe the same consultants had done the rounds!
The verse from Proverbs is actually better and more fully translates like this: “Without prophetic revelation the people will run wild.”
John puts the same truth another way: “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).
This means no more and no less than this: we are meant to be a prophetic people.
Sometimes we think being prophetic is to be a weird and somewhat unbalanced charismatic giving out strange pronouncements while pretending to be the mouthpiece of God.
I think we’re all sensible enough to know that’s not it.
Being prophetic means this: being able to hear God, to have the full meaning of his written Word revealed to us by his Spirit, to understand his will for us and to see how he is wanting to implement that will in our lives today.
And that’s what it means to have vision. And it’s why you can never sum up God’s vision for your life or your church in one statement, no matter how highly crafted it is or how much it cost.
If we’re honest, a lot of us and a lot of churches have lost a lot of vision.
How do we get it back?
The first step is to go back to basics. You have to be able to hear God. That shouldn’t be hard as we are in a living relationship with him. But you can’t hear him unless you are talking to him. And you can’t hear him without reading his Word, for that is our basic manual for life. And you can’t hear him without asking daily for his Spirit to fill you, because without his Spirit you will not understand his Word or hear his voice.
If I’m right, vision is about understanding God’s heart and will for your life. It’s about knowing what he wants you to do and what steps he requires of you to do it.
Sometimes we think of visionary people as living somewhere up in the clouds and a bit out of touch with reality. This could not be further from the truth.
People with true spiritual vision are those who understand the times in which they live and know what God is calling them to do to extend his kingdom and turn the darkness around them into light.
We have become far too passive. We have developed a consumer culture in which we go to church to have our needs met.
Visionary people understand that church is the place to be equipped for the battleground of our lives the other six days of the week.
Visionary people understand that the kingdom of God comes in the workplace and the marketplace just as much as it comes in church services.
How do you spot someone with vision? They’re like a young man Elaine and I met with this week. They radiate purpose. They live for mission. They are on fire for God.
I’m heading into the latter stages of my life. But I want to keep my vision until the day the Lord calls me home.
If you’ve lost your vision, it’s time to get it back!