10 years ago, pastors were often required contractually to preach at least one sermon on stewardship each year. Purpose driven churches, states Rick Warren need a vision casting sermon every 28 days because that’s how fast vision ‘leaks’ out of a congregation. I don’t know if 28 days is the holy number of vision-casting but it does seem to me that with just about everything in life we have seasons where we are refreshed with a biblical vision for the church and there are seasons where we need refreshing. I don’t think this is a particularly spiritual thing. I think that everyone has moments where their sense of purpose has leaked out and they need a refill of vision and purpose. We need this in our marriages and families. We need that in our professional lives. I think something that is proved true in the rest of life is true with church as well.
What does it mean to be a people of vision? I don’t mean vision as defined by Os Guiness, Bill Hybels or Rick Warren. Not that their opinions are not significant and helpful, but what does it mean to be a people of spiritual insight? What does it mean to be more than a church that knows where it wants to go -- knows it's preferred future -- but a people who discern the truth and who are fearless in their pursuit of God’s kingdom?
I want to share today a little bit about what it means to be a people of vision – or to use biblical terms "people who truly see."
1) Jesus is concerned about our ‘vision’ (vv. 35-36)
In John 5 we meet paralyzed man who after being healed by Jesus ultimately disobeys him and tells everyone about what Jesus did for him. We read that this led to persecution and a serious restriction on Jesus’ movements in the area. Basically Jesus’ entire ministry was hindered because the healed man did not obey.
The story of John 9, where we are introduced to a man who was born blind, is of a completely different type. Here, the man receives his sight, he testifies to what Jesus has done. He ends up being insulted himself because he stood by his story for truth finally being kicked out of the synagogue because of his testimony about Jesus
It is very clear when reading this story that Jesus is speaking in metaphor – he is not referring to physical blindness or sight but spiritual blindness and spiritual vision
What strikes me as significant in this initial exchange is that Jesus is the one who seeks this man out
He has already healed him of his physical blindness but now has returned to find him and question him about his spiritual vision –
The story stands as an enacted parable for all of us today Jesus cares about our spiritual vision he seeks us out to ask if we see clearly
What is left for us today is the answer do we see clearly?
Are we a people of spiritual insight? can we see the truth of God’s ways clearly can we see the God’s path clearly are we on that path?
Jesus cares about our spiritual vision
2) True Vision leads us to Jesus (vv. 37-38)
The second movement of this passage relates to the content of that vision and this is incredibly important for us to see
Having a kingdom of God vision a vision of the truth – will always lead us to Jesus
Jesus stands at the center of every true spiritual vision Jesus’ way stands at the center of every true spiritual vision
It’s at this point that we see the need of focus vision isn’t that helpful if we can’t focus I need lenses in front of my eyes to focus properly
My grandmother, before she passed away started losing her sight when she was my age and it continually got worse until she lost it all
There was point where she couldn’t focus enough to drive then she couldn’t make out ball players on her TV Then she couldn’t clean her floor then she couldn’t fill a glass with hot water
On and on it went – a slow loss of vision as an ever increasing inability to focus
What is true of physical vision in this case is also true of spiritual vision
An ever decreasing ability to focus results in blindness
The lens for us is Jesus Christ – there is no other Jesus stands between God and us and enables us to see God’s values enables us to see God’s love
Spiritual vision will always have Jesus as its focal point if the focus is on worldly concepts – spiritual blindness will overtake us If our focus is on keeping our safety zones intact spiritual blindness will overtake us If our focus is on anything other than Jesus Christ and him crucified – we are out of focus and risk becoming spiritually blind
And how is it that Jesus wants to focus our lives?
3) False Vision brings judgement (vv. 39-41)
It takes a community to make strong disciples
The areas I struggle in – you can help me and the areas you struggle in – I can help you
Multiply this across 30, 60, 100 people and you have people who are encouraged and helped each day
In the clip we watched there were those two old ants “go back and be like everyone else” they said “we’ve never done it that way before” and so on and so on
The Jewish leaders never did things Jesus’ way before and many opposed him because he was too different
But when our vision is based on God’s values different is okay – not for the sake of being different
But because we are being transformed from one degree of glory to another and that means that I will be different next month than I am today – and that is a good thing
Change should never cause us to fear no change should drop us to our knees get our focus back on Jesus and regain our vision of the Kingdom
As the cartoon says in our handout today it’s time to stop worry about life and start reading the manual knowing that God’s word leads to a renewed vision and renewed worship of Jesus Christ