The Unbearable Lightness of Vision

The Veil Rent

The Veil Rent

And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision (1 Samuel 3:1).

Where there is no vision, the people perish . . . (Proverbs 29:18).

Today I heard that yet another small-town church, with which I am familiar, is closing its doors.  “No one wanted to do anything,” the pastor said.  I have heard that too many times before.  Others complain about lack of tithing from participants, but that is another story.

Lack of vision for the church often starts with calcified thinking on the part of those who actually run the church, its older and more influential members.  For instance,

I suggest to a rural pastor, whose church sits out of sight of the main road, that a welcoming sign be placed on the highway, pointing the way.  He replies, “Everyone around here knows where the church is.”

An obstacle.

I suggest to another pastor that he have the church times listed on his church marquee.  His reply:  “Anyone who wants to know when the services are will call ahead to the office during the week.”

Another obstacle.

I recommend, as I do in all cases, that a certain church obtain a Web site and use it to network and keep members abreast of events.  The reply:  “The telephone has always worked fine for me.”

Strike three.

I also hark back to the time I applied for a position as a singles pastor at a sizable urban church.  Besides being fully qualified, ministerially, I also had extensive experience in singles ministries, and was single, myself.

I was never contacted for an interview.  To my chagrin, participants in the singles group later recounted to me how the church had chosen a mature, always-married, former pastor, who could, in their view, “show the singles how they ought to be.”  He greatly offended my friend, Matt, himself a “satisfied single” intent on being complete in Christ, by asking in an assuming tone, “So when are you going to get married, Matt?”  The assumption that everyone needs, or even wants, to be married at a given stage of life is certainly old-fashioned, if not indeed judgmental.

The church is meant to be all about vision, and that vision is all about removing obstacles between God and man.  Jesus came declaring “the Acceptable Year of the Lord” (Isaiah 61:2), a period of amnesty during which all who believe can be saved (Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13).  He “poured out [his] Spirit upon all flesh” (Joel 2:28/Acts 2:17).

Jesus laid blame on the scribes and Pharisees, who “bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers” (Matthew 23:4).

Jesus paid the ultimate price to remove such burdens, and all obstacles, rending the veil (Mark 15:38 and par.) and breaking down the wall of division (Ephesians 2:14).  Those who call themselves Christian are under orders to carry his Gospel as treasure in “earthen vessels” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

Perhaps some of us need to be reminded “what manner of spirit ye are of” (Luke 9:55).

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