Theology alert…

Skip this bit if you’re not interested in this sort of thing.

I’ve come to the conclusion, over the last few months, that I don’t believe in “vision”. At least, I believe that God does, from time to time, give individual and collections of Christians a glimpse of the bigger picture, but that actually, nine times out of ten, we wouldn’t understand it if we saw it, and the search for a vision is likely to represent a huge distraction from the job in hand.

Maybe I underestimate the value of a vision, because of having no great personal need for one. Maybe people who need and value this overarching sense of what they’re working towards function better that way, and I’m just differently made. On the other hand, maybe they’re almost all missing the point.

The way I see my Christianity, I am called to live my life in close proximity to God. I am called to pray regularly, study the bible, and meet with other believers. Through these activities, and, in fact, through any other activity God pleases, I am given the opportunity to hear Him speak to me, in a personal and individual way; to discover what specific things he would have me do and say, and when nothing in particular seems to be pressing, to generally live my life in accordance with the teachings of Jesus – in a way that demonstrates the loving of God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength (that doesn’t sound right, I can never remember the order), and the loving of my neighbours as I love myself.

Frankly, I see that challenge as being quite enough to go on with. Loving my neighbours is a tricky business. Don’t even like some of ’em.

I don’t really understand why I need a bigger “vision” than that. If, within that, God tells me to go talk to someone at a bus-stop, be a missionary in Timbuctu, preach hell, fire and damnation in the city centre, or quit my job and become a hairdresser, then that’s what I’ll do. Or more likely, I’ll object profusely, argue the toss, and fight him every inch of the way. Fortunately, God’s very patient with me over my attitude problem. Nevertheless, my experience is that God VERY RARELY explains why he wants you to become a hairdresser, he just makes it quite clear, over a period of time, that he does, and years later, you look back and see how well it worked out.

This is becoming rather Adrian Plass like, but I find the idea of waking up in the morning with a fully formed picture of the hairdressing ministry that I’m going to start, the hundreds of people who will be involved in it, converted through it, etc, etc, quite alarming. In fact, I just don’t trust it. If God says be a hairdresser, be a hairdresser. If he uses your hairdressing to bring people to know Jesus, that’s great. If he uses it to do people’s hair, well that’s not so bad, either.

3 thoughts on “Theology alert…

  1. The problem hangs on the fact that christians use the word “vision” in two senses.
    1) A picture transmitted by God in a supernatural way to inform or illuminate his people.
    2) A picture formed by the imagination of what one can or might achieve in the future if one puts one’s mind to it.
    It is not always clear which version a particular christian is referring to.
    The issue is further complicated by christians who use the word to enhance their appearance of spirituality.

  2. Yes… I don’t have a problem with the first sort, but there is VERY LITTLE biblical precedent for the second, that I can see.

    In fact, the tower of Babel is the most glaring example of why NOT to follow a big “vision”. Noah had one, but it was personal to him, and didn’t involve mobilising anyone else, and pursuading them that they had to do as he said. True, they wouldn’t get in the boat, but he didn’t lay trips on them for not helping him with the carpentry.

    Moses’ Vision involved taking the children of Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, but I’m prepared to bet that they only followed him because he was liberating them, not because they were Bought In.

    The only exception I can think of is the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the exile to Babylon. And the New Testament church seems to have been perfectly happy to accept the Great Commission as their major goal, and leave it at that.

  3. Any vision, prophecy or any other “divine” communication that has as it’s purpose the job of coercing or manipulating the people into a particular course of action, is very definitely not christian and very “worldly”. It probably didn’t come from God either! Avoid at all costs…

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