I saw the Lord
How do we experience visions of God today?
Experiencing a vision of the Lord today requires us to be in tune with the world around us. It requires sensitivity to God's movement in the world amidst fallen Humanity. When God wants a wrong corrected, he places a seed into the human heart and lets it grow. God speaks to our imagination, and shows us a picture of what life according to his will could be like. Holy imagination can picture a better world. In 1963, Martin Luther King and other black leaders organized the march in Washington to protest discrimination against black Americans. More than 200,000 civil rights supporters heard King delivered his famous speech "I have a dream."
Maybe you recognize the speech: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: we hold these truths to be self evident; that all men are created equal. I have a dream that one day among the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners would be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation in which they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. . . I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low. . . And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”
Like the Biblical visionaries before him, Martin Luther King was using Holy imagination to dream of a world that was yet to be, a world in which God's justice and peace would fill the earth.
Our world today confronts us with overwhelming brokenness and injustice. We see broken homes and damaged children, victims of abuse, the unemployed and unemployable, oppressive governments, starving people, oppressive social structures, a lust for consumption that rapes our environment, corporations that turn a blind eye to child labor and dangerous working conditions. . .
Sometimes God puts these burdens on our hearts and invites us to become part of his movement in the world. Experiencing a vision from the Lord requires our willingness to be obedient to his call. But, God doesn't speak only to the great and mighty, he also speaks to you any. If we see that something is not right, that's something does not measure up to God's desire for our families, our workplace, our school environment, or which ever setting in life it maybe, then God has planted a seed in our hearts. If we are willing to hear God's voice, this seed will grow. That is how we experience a vision from the Lord today.
Proclaiming an unpopular message
Have you ever had to give someone a message that they did not want to hear? How did that make you feel? It wasn't easy was it? When we read the Bible we get the feeling that the prophets often had to proclaim an unpopular message. They spoke words that convicted the people of their evil ways.
Proclaiming an unpopular message is not easy because we all want to be liked by other people. As a Minister I can relate to the words of Isaiah: “Woe to me, I am ruined, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the king the Lord Almighty.”
You see, the one proclaiming the unpopular message, first has to make sure that the message measures up to his life. If your words and your deeds don't match, then you have no right to tell anyone else what they are doing wrong. I believe this is what the prophet Isaiah was struggling with. God had allowed him to see some things that were wrong in his society. And yet, he realized that he was part of that society. In condemning the actions of the people he knew himself to be part of that condemnation.
In my opinion that is the true test. And in that sense, every message has to be an unpopular message to some extent. If it does not first convicted the Speaker, it will definitely not really convict the hearer. On the contrary, if the speaker has not tested the message against his own life then his words will not really be God's word, but rather his own judgmental attitude.
In saying this I realize that I have just proclaimed an unpopular message! After all none of us wants to be labeled as being judgmental.