Your vision is great...it's just not as great as God's

I want to confess that I am a bit of a skeptic these days. But I'm not alone. Anyone who has an opinion - which includes any person who is breathing right now - has an idea of the way things should be. When we see others living out their ideas in ways that run contrary to what we envision in our own minds, then we start to doubt the validity of the beliefs of others. Or we even doubt ourselves.

A couple of years ago I stepped away from a staff position at a local church. I needed a break from church ministry, but it wasn't because of anything the people of the church had done. Those people are still my friends and I continue to love and pray for them as they do for me. What I was truly in need of was a break from myself. You see, I had gotten to a point where I was being so driven in a direction where I believed God was leading me that it wouldn't have been fair or right for myself or the church to stay where I was.

There are many who become skeptical of church and "the way things should be." That doesn't mean that these premonitions are wrong, but we must be careful to discern just what it is that is fueling these differing perspectives. For instance, there was a point in time when I believed that I was going to plant a church. Once I truly invested myself in learning more about the church planting process I quickly realized that I wanted to plant a church not because I wanted to see a new work of God and people coming to faith in Christ, but rather because I felt like I could "do church" better. Church planting is a wonderful thing and I fully support and love the guys that are involved in these new works of God, yet my motives were fueled not by kingdom desires but rather by selfish ones.

Awhile back I listened to a fella talk about what God was doing in his life and the new ministry into which he believed God had led him. He was a guy like me who believed that the church could and should do better and was passionate about the vision that was laid about before him. I'm sure there was much good that this man was hoping to accomplish for the Lord, I just didn't get a chance to see or hear it because he was too busy bashing other churches because of what they were not doing. If you get to the point where your personal ministry agenda eclipses that of the gospel, then your ministry agenda is misguided at best.

So what's my point? Church isn't perfect. Ministry is messy and sometimes we get it wrong. Our ideas may be good and noble and true, but that doesn't always mean that they are the best options for others to follow. There will be times when what we desire to see just doesn't happen. People will respect your vision and opinion, but it will not be the path that they choose to travel. And those things are okay!

Imagine what the world would be like if all of us embraced the same ideas and vision for how we believed God's church should operate. How in the world would we reach the world if all of us were looking through the same pair of rose-colored glasses? I love the fact that I can read through the gospels and find no examples of Jesus instructing us on what our church ministries are supposed to look like. Instead, He chooses to tell us how they are to operate:
"But you," He asked them, "who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!" And Jesus responded, "Simon son of Jonah, you are blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church and the forces of Hades will not overpower it." (Matthew 16:15-18, emphasis mine)
The church is built upon the rock of the gospel. Jesus is Lord, the hope of the nations. He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). Our starting point is the gospel, not some program that tries to appeal to the senses.  

I have dreams of what I want to see happen in God's church as do most of you. I've been "that guy" who spends too much time being critical of what others are doing while neglecting the keep the gospel central to all that I do. Let us not be so arrogant to think that Jesus is more concerned with what our church is doing than He is with seeing His name glorified through His gospel.




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