This topic which I am going to try to expound upon is one that I feel relates to all areas of our daily lives. The subject of vision is one that is most commonly associated with the church. However, if you have been in church long, I am sure that at some point you have heard a message on this very subject.
Usually the preacher will direct your attention to Proverbs 29:18 which states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” He will use this verse to show us that vision is a absolute necessity for a church to thrive. Though this is an absolute truth which can’t be stated enough, I believe one of the main problems is that vision far too often is not defined. When it is defined it usually has to do with what the church should be instead of what it is.
I have come to the understanding of late that the reason for so much conflict in our churches and families is that our concept of vision is skewed. We have been deceived into mistaking agendas for vision. Though they may seem similar, I believe there is a difference.
One might say that our agendas are the result of our vision, but far too often that is not the case. The proper definition of an agenda is a list, outline, or plan of things to be considered or done. I define an agenda this way: It is an idea we endeavor to make a reality.
I’m sure just from the definition given, coupled with your own personal experience with people, you are already aware of the issues that can arise when we replace vision with agendas. The problem is that we all have a tendency to develop agendas both hidden and public. The problems seem to come to a pinnacle when people meet together and everyone has a different agenda.
This is also true with marriage. When both spouses have conflicting agendas, there is bound to be tension since human nature dictates that my agenda has a place of predominance above your agenda.
Most of the time, agendas have for their basis personal preference or opinion though they can also come from outside sources as well. The Bible can even become the source of our agendas.
For example, the Bible tells us that we are to meet together to worship the Lord, but it does not tell us how long those worship services are to be. One person doesn’t like how long the service is so they develop an agenda to shorten the service. The other person seems to enjoy it when the services go a little long and they develop an agenda to lengthen the services. We don’t need to be overly smart to know what happens when one of these individuals presents their agenda before the body.
The answer is CONFLICT!
The reason agendas cause so much problem is because the people that have them are uniquely different and they have different agendas. Agendas are a huge pitfall because they have self at the center of whatever issue presents itself. When conflicting agendas present themselves in a group of people, the result is those individuals who have similar agendas will come together to form separate factions.
The end of this scenario is destruction and hence the proverb rings true. They have replaced a God-centered vision with a self-centered agenda and they perish.
“From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4:1-3)
Where do these wars among you come from? Don’t they come from your flesh-driven agendas? The church, our marriages, and our families as a whole need to be moving in a positive direction, but agendas will not get us there. We can’t try to make our ideas or personal preferences about these things a reality. We need to remove our agendas from the church and come back to a vision of church.
What is true vision? The definition for vision is the special sense by which the qualities of an object are perceived and which is mediated by the eye. Whereas an agenda is trying to make an idea a reality, vision is where we look with the eye of faith to behold the perfections of Christ and His church and try to lay hold of that reality as we set our course. Vision is finding the real will of God and pursuing it.
It is true vision that prays, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). It looks to Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2). God has a will for his church that is a reality. Vision sees and pursues that reality as her own. Christ is a reality which vision sees and pursues in order to experience that reality.
Rather than argue over agendas and wants, we should be asking, What does God want? We should search his Word which has revealed his will.
But what do we need in order to have vision? We need the same two things that we need to naturally see: Eyes and light. In a spiritual context, we need faith and revelation. The first is a fruit of the Spirit and is given when the child of God is born again (Gal. 6:22). The second we gain by inspiration through the inspired Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16) and the illumination of understanding (Job 32:8).
When we use our spiritual eye to peer into the Word of God to find those divine realities, and endeavor to become more acquainted with those realities, we have a vision.
“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:10-14)
Was Paul pursuing an idea, a personal opinion, a philosophy, or an agenda? Or was he diligently pursing a reality? Paul exhorted us to have vision–to look at the heavenly realities and to run because of them. He wrote, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:2).
The end result
When an individual or a church loses the vision of Christ, like Peter walking on water, they perish beneath the waves of turmoil. Such was the case with the church at Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-18). Their Christ-centered vision was lost.
An artist paints a reality he sees. Are you like the artist trying to paint a picture of Christ? The runner runs keeping his eyes on the finish line. Are we doing the same?
People very seldom have the same agenda, but people can have the same vision so long as they look in the same direction. If we look with the eye of faith at the Word of the Lord and see the reality of Christ, we will have the same vision and we will go the same direction.
As long as individual and churches substitute agendas for vision we will continue to be divided, nations, churches and families. So what drives you? Vision or agenda?