This topic which I am going to try to expound upon is one that I feel relates to all areas of our daily lives. However the subject of vision is one that is most commonly associated with the church, and 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 “Where there is no vision, the people perish” and will use this verse to show us that vision is an absolute necessity for a church to have in order for it 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, and that may be the case, but far too often that is not the case. According to Webster’s dictionary 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 and 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 marriages 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, but 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 over, 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! Another thing that identifies an agenda is that they usually come in list format. The format goes as follows: the first person says we as a body want to get to this place as an end result. In order to do that, we must do steps one through five in their proper order. A second person of a different opinion, thinks we should do steps five through one in order, and yet a third person has an agenda to keep everything the same.
The reason agendas cause so many problems, is because the people that have them are uniquely different. Since they are different, they have different agendas. Agendas are a huge pitfall because they have self at the center of whatever issue presents its self. When conflicting agendas present themselves in a group of people the result is, those individuals who have similar agendas will ban together to form two and sometimes three separate factions. The end of this scenario is destruction, or to perish and hence the proverb rings true. They have replaced a God centered vision with a self centered agenda and they perish. As mentioned before, the heart of agendas is self, or what the Bible calls being self willed. This is why one of the qualifications of a minister is that he be “not selfwilled Titus 1:7”, because if the overseer has a self willed agenda then he is leading the church to follow his “plan” instead of urging the congregation to follow the “vision”. Paul also warns against those whose are following their own agenda instead of vision in Phil 3:16-19 “16Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. 17 ¶ Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.).” Paul in the previous verses spends a good share of time explaining just what his vision is, and it was something that he was earnestly pressing after. James also in some way addresses the same issue in James 4:1-3 “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 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. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” Another way you could say what James is saying is “where do these wars among you come from? Don’t they come from your flesh driven agendas?” James is saying you have agendas your willing to murder for in order to get your way. It still doesn’t satisfy you, and you don’t have because you don’t ask me for it. Even if you did ask me for it, I wouldn’t give it to you, because you a motivated by the flesh.
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.
We have seen how self willed agendas can replace true vision but we haven’t answered the question what is true vision? The definition for vision according to Webster’s is “the special sense by which the qualities of an object (color, luminosity, shape, and size) constituting its appearance are perceived and which is mediated by the eye.” An agenda is trying to make an idea a reality, whereas, vision, perceives what the reality is, and based on that reality endeavourers to experience it. Vision is where we look with the eye of faith to behold the perfections of Christ and His church and trying to lay hold of that reality we set our course. Vision is looking and finding what the real will of God is for the church 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, and follows “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” Heb 12:2. The reality is God has a will for his church; vision sees and pursues that reality as her own. Christ is a reality; vision sees and pursues him to experience that reality. The whole time that people in church and families argue over conflicting agendas/wants, they should be asking what does God want, and seeking in his word what he has revealed as his will.
What is needed in order to have vision? Two things: the same two things that we need to see naturally, Eyes and light. In a spiritual context we need the eye of faith, and the light of revelation/illumination. 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 have by inspiration in the two fold since, first the inspired word of God 2Tim 3:16 and the second part is the inspiration/illumination to understand the word Job 32:8. When we use our spiritual eye to peer into the word of God to find those divine realities and then endeavor to become more acquainted with those realities, we have a vision! True worship is a reality with the Father. Vision sees true worship for what it is, and endeavors to partake in it. A biblical Christ-centered marriage is a reality shown in scripture; vision sees that reality in the grace of God and pursues it. Godly parenting is a reality; vision sees it and runs after it. Vision is a reality that already exists, we just have to see it and pursue it. Listen to Paul’s wonderful vision “10That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 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. 13 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, 14 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, an agenda or was he diligently pursing a reality? In Col 3:2 Paul exhorts us to have vision, to look at the heavenly realities and to run because of them and to them “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Conclusion!
Just like Peter, when an individual or a church loses the vision of Christ they perish beneath the waves of turmoil. Such was the case with the church at Laodicea, 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 keeps his eyes on the finish line and prize, are we doing the same? People very seldom have the same agenda, but people can have the same vision they all just have to look in the same direction. If we look with the eye of faith at the word of the Lord then we will see the reality of Christ’s church and what it looks like. Taking what we find and pursing to experience it, we will have the same vision and we will go the same direction. As long as individuals and churches substitute agendas for vision, we will continue to be divided nations, churches and families. So what drives you, vision or agenda?