November 6, 2014
“So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. First to those in Damascus,then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”
Vision has become a big concept in the world of leadership. It’s created an entire industry of gurus and buzz words and best practices. There’s vision casting and visioneering and visionary leaders who lead visionary organizations. “He’s a visionary,” people will say about some leaders. Then we get to mission statements and onward to strategies and objectives and goals and tactics and before you know it, we need a couple of Bishops or a consultant to sort everything out again.
All of this finds its way into our businesses, organizations and yes churches. As relates to the church, there’s a slightly major corrective I’d like to propose in this whole conversation. Too often, the idea of a “vision” means the leader’s latest greatest ideas and plans for the church. These are often great ideas (unless they are not), and they may help fulfill the vision, but we should not consider them our “vision.”
The Church (really every organization) needs visionary leaders, but of a different sort. We don’t need leaders who “have” a vision, but leaders who can “see” THE VISION and whose primary charism (gift) is that of helping others to see it too.
That’s what Paul is saying in today’s text. He speaks of THE VISION from HEAVEN. It makes sense doesn’t it. The most fundamental prayer Jesus taught us to pray was, “Thy Kingdom come, on Earth as it is in HEAVEN.” And what does that vision look like? Thanks for asking.
First to those in Damascus,then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. . . .I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”
Didn’t Jesus say something like that? “But 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.” Acts 1:8.
THE VISION can be found in THE SERMON and through THE PARABLES and in THE LETTERS and THE SONGS. We can see THE VISION from the beginning of BOOK 1 to the end of BOOK 66. This is what becoming a person of One Book is all about– belonging to, believing in, becoming like, building up, heck– even being branded by THE VISION. In fact, the whole point of THE VISION is to turn us into THE VISION so that others can see God.
I don’t think I’m overplaying my hand. We aren’t the visionaries. We don’t bring the vision. THE VISION has been handed down to us. Our task is to see THE VISION and then become the kind of people doing the kind of creative work through whom others can see it. This is our “shift.”
That’s my take on obedience to the vision from Heaven.
Can you see it? Will you be it?
COME HOLY SPIRIT!
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