Ever got lost going on a drive somewhere? Came to a life-decision, and have no idea which direction you should take? Been overwhelmed by the choices you could make in a shop, or at the grocery store?
In this month of February, we want to make sure we are all clear what direction we will take as a church in the year ahead, what decisions we need to make to stay on track, and become empowered to make the best choices for building momentum in serving Jesus together and building His Kingdom here on earth. This is the single most important, indeed the best, direction you and I can take in this life!
The body, together
There's a reason why Paul used the body as a metaphor for the church - we are each of us unique parts of the whole. And there is a reason why Paul called the churches he planted to "make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit" in Ephesians 4:3. The reason: we are each of us individuals, with unique desires, needs, and hopes, and yet we're called to unite together for the purposes Jesus laid out for us, to be fulfilled in the power of the Holy Spirit. We are, in short, unique and different parts of a body put together, by Jesus. But unlike our own bodies, we have a tendency to pull apart in all sorts of different directions.
What do I mean? I mean, it'd be strange if your arms started to pull away from your legs, all attached as they are to your torso. It usually takes a very significant and dangerous external force to do that. And yet we don't consider it strange when we pull apart and can't agree together, join together, and build great relationships together as His church...His body. I'm not pointing the finger at anyone, for I am just as quick to do so, and also just as quick to justify myself as the one who is right. But this often leads to a failure to keep unity...and ignore the Apostles determined call to do the opposite.
How does this affect our life together as a church? Well, we get lost, we lose a sense of the decisions we need to make to stay together, and we get overwhelmed by the challenges of being united together on purpose for Jesus. And in light of this lostness and overwhelm, we tend to settle for less than God's best. This is why vision is so crucial:
"...where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained..." [Proverbs 29:18]
It want to note that the word for vision here means more than an inspiring purpose statement, as we often experience vision as today. No, the underlying meaning of the word is more like revelation from God kind of vision. Where people in bible times, and in our times, seek God, hear from God as clear as they can, and speak forth what they believe God is saying, rallying God's people to fulfill the purpose God has for us in the year ahead.
Enter Vision Month 2021
It is important to note that the vision of our church - C3 Church Wentworthville & Carlingford - is not simply an inspiring purpose statement meant to raise "positive vibes." It comes as the result of months of prayerful consideration by the Senior Leadership Team, of which I am a part, the Vision Team, and the Board. It is the result of us seeking God, hearing from God as best we can, and then speaking forth what we believe God is saying to rally us all to fulfill the sense of purpose God has for us in the year ahead.
I will explore what is shared over the weekend in the blogs upcoming this month. For now, I want to bring clarity to why we do this vision weekend, and vision month, ever year. It is, in short, so we stay clear, focused, and united around what Jesus is calling us to do for His name and glory. Without intentional moments like these, each year, with reminders throughout the rest of the year, we pull apart in all sorts of different directions, or in the words of Proverbs 29:18 (NIV version), "cast off restraint." We do what seems best to us, without considering how it contributes to the unity of the church, and the mission of Jesus here on Earth.
This year, especially in light of the times we are in, we can't afford to "cast off restraint." Our church, but more importantly, the mission of Jesus for planet Earth through us, depends on us making every effort to "keep the the unity of the Spirit" together.
I leave you with a question
How are you contributing to the constant effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in our church, so far? How are you, by way of contrast, contributing against keeping the unity of the Spirit in our church so far? Consider these questions prayerfully, and listen for how Jesus responds as you ask these questions before Him.
Let's lean in together to the vision God has for our church, keeping the unity of the Spirit for the Glory of Jesus and that His mission may continue to grow more fruitful through us in the year ahead.
Written by Ps. Rob