But WITH Vision...!!!
“Without Vision, the People cast off restraint.”
Few expressions are as painful to ponder as this. The reality of watching this happen—visionless people throwing off Life and Reality—people who sell their dream, JESUS’ Dream is an unthinkable tragedy. And yet these wasted lives and potential, these wounds to Jesus, mark 99% of christendom in this Laodicean age in which we live.
BUT THAT CAN CHANGE!!!
Consider that the first air travel was in 1903, when Dayton, Ohio’s Wright brothers accomplished a 12 second and 37 meter flight. By the end of that day, they had set a new record—a 59 second flight, covering a whopping 260 meters. Now consider that in barely more than 65 years after that first North Carolina short-beach-walk-of-a-”flight”—men had walked ON THE MOON—a 384 MILLION METER FLIGHT from earth. And back. In only 65 years of progress!
Do we REALLY doubt then how marvelously and quickly MIRACLES can happen in Jesus’ Name, when mere men can do such things as we’ve just described? The awesome things GOD wants to do in our lives, and in His church worldwide, for her to be “prepared for the Return” of her Groom, Jesus—these are not even DIFFICULT, no matter how far away they may seem to human eyes!
In spite of the setbacks that come to “test our faith,” many WILL still passionately love and long for and live for Jesus’ Dream, to have a visible People, once not a People…like a city set on a hill! They will spend their last breath for a People that look like HIM, an equal yoke for His Return and Wedding!
“Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to proclaim to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:8-11).
What happens when we strive for “the Glory of God!!” and we don’t see the manifestation of His Life in our environment? What if few seem to care in our small part of the world, and even those near us with “similar ideas” are hard to get along with and not entirely impressive in the way they live out Jesus’ Life? What if “our” best efforts are weak or worthless? What if we don’t personally see the identifiable local church that “the gates of hell cannot prevail against,” “joined and knit together by every supporting ligament,” “where one part of the body will not say, ‘I have no need of you,’” and we “contend as one man for the Faith,” “admonishing one another daily so that none are hardened and deceived by sin” and visibly loving and serving one another “that the world may know”?
Seven Reactions to the Disappointments and Fatigue
Historically, in many parts of the world, we’ve seen a number of reactions to the disappointments and fatigue that inevitably set in by God’s Design.
1) Some get busy with institutional “church work” and bury themselves in programs and good deeds and attendance and stuff.
2) Some get a “hobby,” such as “anti-whatever” or “missions,” or are crazed by Y2K phobia (which will evolve into something else now, obviously), or home school or health food.
3) Some will get swallowed by the machine, and digested and inebriated by its digestive juices…and get “promoted” up the ladder. They’ll be coaxed and flattered by mom and other leaders to get legitimate and go to “seminary” and thus be educated into being a “man of God.” Or they’ll just read some Dale Carnegie, Toastmasters, Zig Ziglar, or “Deep Truth” books that they can regurgitate from a pulpit, to everyone’s delight. Or they’ll “start a ministry” and make themselves feel busy and fruitful and important by promoting their names and their sweet stuff, and doing newsletters, websites, special appearances, “mission trips,” and the like. Photographs, bios, posters…man-centered, man-promoting, Jesus-robbing stuff. All in His Name. But, they have no fruit of corporate daily Life of Jesus. Are they just words? In many cases, even their families are worldly-minded. “Wisdom is proved right by her CHILDREN”—not by “her fan club” or “her audience.”
It is relatively painless to be a traveling hero or a talking head, or an invisible writing hand (an “author”). It is a hiding place from the REAL thing! OH, what Life could be like if we Built Jesus’ Way, and all of His Gifts and Resources were used His Way! How sweet Life could be—and the multiplied fruitfulness would be staggering! And those who THOUGHT they had no Gift to speak of would be drawn into amazing Usefulness and staggering Places, if they had the courage to go there.
4) Some, when they drift away from God’s Heart and God’s Vision will get lazy and cold and become “sitters,” while they invest their energies and resources in the world and in their biological family units. Very sad.
5) Some will become disenchanted by people or events and become bitter and hostile, explaining their sins away by forever whining, “I was hurt! I was damaged! I was used and abused!” These will either be quitters, blaming others for their disobedience to God, or they will become prideful and ambitious and show the world that THEY can do it “right” when no one else is. They’ll start their OWN li’l ol’ thang, for Jesus. Or make a hobby out of lashing out. It is a reaction, not Revelation, and will fail. But they don’t see that, yet.
6) Some will intellectualize away the Desire of God’s heart—for visible expressions of His Reign in local life. “We being many are ONE!” Some will use “scholarship” or “Greek” to attempt to dismantle the Picture of Life in Christ, together on a daily basis. It’s a devious game, emanating from their own hurt and failures and lack of experience of Reality in Christ together, as He intends. “NOW, through the church!” Most “doctrines” are created, not out of “scholarship,” but out of their own hurts and failures that they cover up with. “Oh, well, it’s not SUPPOSED to be that way, anyway!” Then I don’t have to hurt or take responsibility for my own failures or worldliness. It’s easier that way. Nearly all “doctrines” of woe and failure and “the invisible church” and “predestinational aberrations” are formed by pain and lack of experiencing true Life, not by honest views of the Bible. But it all sounds so impressive.
7) Some will try a “house church movement.” Kinda cutting edge stuff these days, eh? And yet most “expressions” are either group therapy sessions, or “Ted Mack Amateur Hour” (everyone gets a turn!), or miniature versions of the institutional “services.” Few “expressions” are apostolically Life-filled, life-changing encounters with the Living God through His Vessels, His Body on a daily basis—“from the least to the greatest.” And I am not speaking of “meetings”! Ah, so this disappointment in the failure of the “house church movement” should lead us to choose, say, #4 or #5 or #6, right?
8) Some will keep going through the external motions of “wrestling to present others perfect in Christ,” even sacrificing sleep and entertainment and relaxation and family approval, but the whole time on the inside doubting if it will make any difference in anybody’s life anyway. And they rebuke themselves for it, knowing it’s unbelief. And they wonder what happened to their joy, and rebuke themselves for that, too, because after preaching to others that self-pity is a sin, they find themselves fighting against it pretty unsuccessfully a lot of the time. And in the meanwhile, their doubts become a self-fulfilling prophecy—all their efforts are pretty ineffectual because there’s not a robust faith in Jesus at the core. And they’d really like to blame someone else, to be a victim, but they know they can’t, so they accuse themselves in their minds constantly. They know if they don’t start drinking of the Living Waters, other vices and diversions will rush to try to fill in that vacuum, and the Testimony of Christ in them will be little more than an educated lukewarmness, where words substitute for what was once Reality.
THESE VARIOUS FALLING-OUT PLACES HAVE HAPPENED TO MANY! WE ARE NOT UNAWARE OF SATAN’S DEVICES! DON’T LET ANY OF THIS NONSENSE BE YOU!!
Jesus’ Plan has not failed, and we don’t need excuses or pseudo-scholarship to explain away the mediocrity that surrounds most people for all or most of their lives!
“Without VISION the people cast off restraint, they perish!”
But then, as sons of Abraham—BECAUSE we have “the faith of Abraham” (Rom. 4), we COULD take a different view of it all and NOT fall into any of the #1-8 traps above, right??!!
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10).
“…All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13-16).
Don’t let anyone, ever, steal your Dream to See Christ’s Life Manifested Daily “from the least to the greatest” in a Visible, Connected Corporate Life of Believers—SINCE IT IS, IN TRUTH, JESUS’ DREAM—ZOE LIFE IN HIS PEOPLE TOGETHER!!!
No matter the setbacks, no matter the experience (good or bad), no matter whether you know of an example anywhere or anytime, no matter how many times you may have been “hurt,” no matter who goes with you, or NOT…be one of the few with “the faith of Abraham” who will remain “Unwavering, fully persuaded, giving glory to God!” even if you are “as good as dead.” That’s when He does His best Work. : )