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Chris Carpenter
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An Uncomfortable Vision

By Chris Carpenter Program Director - I couldn’t help but overhear a young businessman complaining to someone on his cell phone as we stood in line at a coffee shop the other day.  He was clearly agitated as he commented over and over again that so and so lacked vision and had no clear grasp for the future of the company.

I must confess that I too have sometimes been frustrated by people who I felt have lacked vision – a colleague, a pastor, even family members and friends.  These are people, who for whatever reason, did not possess the same discernment or foresight that I did on a given subject.

Perhaps many of you have been in the same spot – you decide you want to change or make something better more than anyone else.  You set your sights on a prize that many don’t think can be achieved.  Rather than waiting for the support of others you forge ahead anyway because you have a great sense of what the outcome could be.  Doing so will have a positive impact on your company, your community, or the population at large.   Simply put, you have vision.

Martin Luther King had vision.  He saw a world where one day people of all colors could live together harmoniously as one.  MLK’s vision was so strong that he educated and inspired people throughout America and unborn generations to come.

Mother Teresa modeled the words of Jesus Christ and made it her vision.  For more than 40 years this slight, frail woman ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while guiding the expansion of Missionaries of Charity throughout India and other countries.

Whether you love him or hate him Bono has vision.  He is convinced that human tragedies such as HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty can be overcome by unified acts of compassion and love.

What I find so appealing about the people I have mentioned above is that all three are simply modeling the values and vision that were cast by Jesus Christ in scripture.  While the phrase ‘all men are created equal in the sight of God’ is from the Declaration of Independence, it is certainly a Biblical principle (Ephesians 2:14).  Jesus Christ commanded us to look out for widows and orphans (James 1:27).  He directed us to help those who can’t help themselves (Luke 10:25-37).

As I left the coffee shop and headed for work that morning I started thinking about whether I truly had the vision I needed to have as a Christian.  Do I treat all people equal regardless of race, gender, or economic state?  Do I look out for widows and orphans?  Do I try to help those who can’t help themselves?

While I could answer yes to all three questions I became quite disheartened when I thought about the frequency in which I followed through.  Yes, I volunteered at the homeless shelter but only at Christmas time.  Yes, I worked on my church food drive but only after being coerced by friends.  Yes, I supported work and witness teams financially but never actually participated.  Perhaps you can relate.

I realized that while I could easily grasp Jesus Christ’s vision for humanity I was failing miserably at fulfilling it.  Further convicting me that morning were the words of secular rock group Nickelback flickering in and out on the radio:

If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
Then we’d see the day when nobody died

Socialist politics aside, in 27 words, a rock group not exactly known for their Christian beliefs had spelled out what this world could be like if people would simply follow through on principles that were initially constructed by Jesus Christ Himself.

The apostle Paul writes in Second Corinthians 9:6-7, “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

While many theologians will argue this text relates primarily to financial resources I argue that it can just as easily be attributed to a person’s time and talents.

God promises to bless us when we give all of ourselves to Him.  All we are and have belongs to God, but we often use what we have selfishly or give only when pressured or asked.  God wants us to give cheerfully and generously so that His vision will be fulfilled.

It isn’t wrong for us to possess wealth and abundance, but it becomes wrong when gaining it becomes more important than helping others.  It is easy to put our vision before His.  However, doing so limits and hinders the work Christ has placed before us.

When we make each crucial decision about the investment of our resources and natural abilities, we can choose what will ultimately profit ourselves – or we can choose what advances the work of God.

In your quest to stand in the gap don’t fall between the cracks.  Follow through on the vision Jesus Christ cast for us so long ago.

Tell me what you think

Portions contained within this article from the Transformer Study Bible.

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