A Heavenly Vision
What would it be like to receive a persona vision from Jesus for our lives and ministry? What would it be like to receive a heavenly vision - a picture of our life purpose, directly from God, that spells out the key priorities God has for us.
This is what God gave Paul when Jesus met him on the road to Damascas. And Paul was able to look back over his life and say, 'I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision'. From this vision, we learn something about the priorities that matter to God.
First, look at how Paul describes his conversion, and the vision Jesus gave him in Acts 26:9-18:
I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth… In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.
But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
Let's break this down and make some application points:
1.Vision comes in the context of opposition, even in our own hearts
Acts 26:12: I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
Vision from heaven can completely redirect us call us to do things we're not naturally disposed to do.
2. Vision is focused on Jesus
Acts 26:15: And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.
Paul was trasnformed through an encounter with Christ; our vision is always going to be Christ-centred.
3. Vision requires an active posture of proactivity
Acts 26: 16: But rise and stand upon your feet
We can't fulfil God's vision sitting down; we've got to be engaged and activity. We will not fulfil God's purposes with an 'I can't be bothered attitude'.
4. Vision is connected to God’s purpose.
Acts 26:16: for I have appeared to you for this purpose.
God is always unfolding his purpose; he gives us vision - he lets us see - so that we have a bit of glimpse of what it is he is up to, and how we fit into his purposes.
5. Vision requires relationship.
Acts 26:16: to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you.
Paul's vision, and the rich theology he learned, came out of personal relationship with Jesus
6. Vision involves going to people who don’t know God.
Acts 4:17: the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you
It's a comfortable thing for Christians to gather for worship and fellowship in community. But God is always calling us beyond, to those who don't know him.
7. Vision aims to bring enlightenment.
Acts 26:18: to open their eyes.
It's not that the people around us have rejected a kingdom they have thoroughly examined; they are blind to the beauty and goodness resident in Christ. The remedy to blindness is eye-opening.
8. Vision aims to bring transformation.
Acts 26:18: so that they may turn from darkness to light
We don't just want to leave people the way they are; we want to help them experience personal transformation through leaving darkness and embracing light.
9. Vision aims to bring deliverance
Acts 26:18: and from the power of Satan to God
People live under spiritual power - either Satan's or God's. Through the gospel, people are delived from dark power and brought into the freeing power of God.
10. Vision aims to bring forgiveness.
Acts 26:18: that they may receive forgiveness of sins
Though a variety of theological perspective attempt to displace the importance of forgiveness of sins, make no mistake - this is central to the gospel. People cannot experience the blessings of God without forgiveness; indeed, this is the portal blessing that opens us up to everything else.
11. Vision aims to bring relationship.
Acts 26:18: a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me
Not only do forgiven people enter a relationship with God, but with God's people. God places new believers in his body - the church, where they can grow and be part of God's vision.
To draw this together in application for our church, this is our vision for 2018:
To do everything we can so that those who don’t know God can experience the enlightenment, transformation, deliverance, and forgiveness found in a relationship with Jesus.
There are may other things we could do, many other things we could prioritse. But following in the steps of Paul, if we can do this - if we can do whatever we can so that those who don’t know God can experience the enlightenment, transformation, deliverance, and forgiveness found in a relationship with Jesus - it will be a good year.