Summary: This sermon is the fourth in a series of five on "The Church Health Review" which seeks to define vision.
The biblical basis for having a vision is, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (KJV). The Hebrew word for vision here is “hazon,” which is not the ordinary word for something seen. Rather, it indicates a revelation from God, such as the visions that the prophets experienced. It has to do with a word from God, a revelation from God, a revelatory word. It’s like what was recorded about the Prophet Samuel’s day in 1 Samuel 3:1, “In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many frequent visions.”
Before we get to “Our Vision” we need to answer three important questions concerning vision:
I. WHY DO WE NEED A VISION ?
Our text says what happens when a people lacks vision, when revelation from God is infrequent – “the people perish, they cast off restraint,” the NIV says. It’s like when Moses was on the mount with God and didn’t return right away, the Israelites weren’t receiving instruction and direction so they cast off restraint by building the golden calves to worship and went away from God’s purpose.
The same thing happens today when God’s people have no vision, the people perish which means they’re going down a road that leads nowhere. We’re just going down the road with no concept or picture of where we’re going. And too often that’s where the church is headed. We don’t have any idea where we’re going, so how can we know when we’ve arrived? That’s why we need vision.
If we don’t have it we’ll cast off restraint which leads to a loss of control and a loss of disciplined living. Duh! Whenever people don’t base their lives on God’s revelation they’ll cast off restraint, that is, they will do what is right in their own eyes. They will set their goals, arrange their agendas and pray for God’s blessings. They will ask God to bless what they’re doing rather than seeking a vision of what God is blessing and getting in on that. That’s why we need a vision.
II. WHAT IS A VISION ?
Just what do we mean by vision? Duke Ellington, the late jazz musician, composer and renowned band leader was once asked to provide a definition of “rhythm.” He responded, “If you got it, you don’t need no definition. And if you don’t have it, ain’t no definition gonna help!” Hopefully vision is not quite that elusive. In fact, if I can adapt what Ellington said slightly it may help us understand one reality regarding vision: Once you have it, you know it, but when you don’t have it, you aren’t quite sure what it will be like.”
In that light, let’s try to define it further for our use. George Barna gives one of the most detailed definitions of vision when he says, “Vision for ministry is a clear mental image of a preferable future imparted by God to His chosen servants and is based upon an accurate understanding of God, self and circumstances.” Someone else defined vision as “foresight with insight based on hindsight.” Now this definition underscores the importance of looking to the future and also emphasizes the significance of possessing an awareness of current circumstances, while noting the value of learning from the past. But the simplest definition I’ve found is by Rick Warren. He says, “Vision is the ability to see the opportunities within your current circumstances.”