As Christians, any vision that we can think up, will always fall short and leave us wondering.
We serve an intensely creative God. We talk about the fact that no two snowflakes are alike, but God has never made two of anything alike. God’s vision for you does not include trying to fit into someone else’s mold. Unless you discover God’s unique vision for your future, your life may very well be a rerun.
Over the next several weeks, we will be looking at 20 essential building blocks for vision. These come from the book “Visioneering” by Andy Stanley that I mentioned just a moment ago.
We will also be looking at the life and vision of Nehemiah, in relation to these 20 building blocks. The one thing I find most encouraging about the story of Nehemiah is that he was just a regular guy who caught a divine glimpse of what could and should be. And then went after it with all his heart.
What is vision?
Where does vision come from?
A Vision is born in the soul of a man or woman who is consumed with the tension between what is and what could be. Anyone who is frustrated, or brokenhearted about the way things are, in light of the way they believe things could be, is a candidate for vision.
In fact, that is how the vision for this church began. I was on staff at a good church, but was becoming more and more frustrated with the way things were, versus the way I believed things could be. God was giving me a vision for a new church.
However, vision is more than simply what could be. After all, what could be is simply an idea or a dream. Vision also carries with it a sense of conviction. It’s not only what could be done, but what should be done. It’s something that must happen. It moves you from passive concern to action. Conviction is what gives vision a sense of urgency.
Vision always stands in contrast to the world as it is. Vision demands change. But a vision also always requires someone to champion the cause. It takes someone who is willing to put his or her neck on the line. Someone who has the courage to act on an idea.
This brings us to the story of Nehemiah and the 20 building blocks that we will be looking at today and over the next three weeks.
Around 587BC the Babylonians invaded Judah and destroyed the city of Jerusalem, along with Solomon’s temple. This was the third of three campaigns into that region. About 70 years after the first Babylonian invasion, Cyrus, King of Persia, gave the Jews permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Under the leadership of a man named Zerubbabel, these exiled Jews returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple. Things were looking up for while. It seemed as if Israel was on the verge of becoming a blessed nation once again. But the people refused to turn away from the very sins that God had judged their ancestors for. The temple was not being maintained. Sacrifices had ceased. The Jews continued to adopt the religious practices and culture of the surrounding nations. By the time our story begins, the political, social, and spiritual conditions in Jerusalem were deplorable.