“The word of the LORD came to me: Mortal, what is this proverb of yours about the land of Israel, which says, ‘The days are prolonged, and every vision comes to nothing’? Tell them therefore, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: I will put an end to this proverb, and they shall use it no more as a proverb in Israel.’ But say to them, The days are near, and the fulfillment of every vision” (Ezekiel 12:21-23 NRV).
Being in relationship with God means opening ourselves up to the visions God places in our minds, and upon our hearts. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ means focusing our eyes upon the shared vision we are all called to actualize in his name. Bringing about a vision in community is far more difficult than doing so in an individual life, but Christ is insistent that we work together, serve together, and bring the Kingdom closer together. When Jesus called those first twelve disciples to his side, and walked with them for three years, he showed them what it means to devote ourselves to something vastly different from what we would ever have dreamed for ourselves. He helped them live lives that were about devotion to a vision where people found a whole new way of being, which revolved around being together in this journey. As the Church, we are not just hanging out together for worship; we are drawing closer and knitting ourselves together so that the vision God places in one can not only be shared with the many, but achieved through the pooling of the gifts and graces of all.
God does not just give visions of a future where justice rolls down the waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream to paint pretty mental pictures. God has expectations that this will be accomplished and we will all do our part individually so the collective may succeed. What that success looks like for each community of faith is different, because they are not all cookie cutter versions of one another, but they are all called to the same degree of commitment and willingness to go out into deep, uncharted waters and let down their nets. So why do we cling to the shore line? Why do we reject the visions of others as being anything but the will of God? We have a responsibility to God and one another to prayerfully discern each vision placed before us, and honor the truth spoken from every person. It is possible for a Christian to see a vision that is vital to the growth of their church, and when someone revealed a vision to my church almost two years ago, we all wanted to write it off. It seemed crazy, but we were faithful to the process of discernment. Over time, we came to realize that this idea that seemed insane at first, might actually be a great success because of who we are and what we have to offer. But envisioning is a painful process that is filled with the possibility of change and great risk financially, personally, and spiritually. Yet every risk Christ asked his disciples to take was worth it. It furthered the emergence of the Kingdom of God and brought the lost closer to discovering their rightful place in the Body of Christ. That is the mantle modern Christians have laid upon their shoulders. We must take our place in the envisioning and actualizing process, so that our faith will have crucial change in our churches, our communities, and around the world. The name of Christ not only relies on it, but rests upon it. Not for our glory, but his.
Christ, our sovereign Lord and gracious God,
Help us to trust in you and your mysterious ways.
When we feel the urge to run away from your visions for us,
Still our feet, and bring us to our knees in prayer.
Teach us to submit ourselves to you;
To subvert our will for the good of the Kingdom.
May we discover what you would have us do,
And simultaneously fulfill who we are called to be.
Let no obstacle prevent us from achieving your will,
Until all people gather at your feet to praise your name,
And accept your grace.
For your honor and glory,
Always and everywhere.