One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: an International, Multi-Ethnic Church in Newark, NJ

Leadership: The Vision of God and His Kingdom – June 2017

Dear Peddie Church Family,

I continue to share reflections on leadership from a biblical perspective.

Dr. Dallas Willard, in his book The Great Omission, talks about an experience of visiting the town of Assisi in Italy. As the birthplace of St. Francis, there are many monuments dedicated to him, organizations bearing his name, merchants selling memorabilia, and tourists swarming the attractions. But you would find no one who carries the fire that St. Francis once carried. Though most people would greatly admire St. Francis, none would be so griped by the fire that once burned in him that they would deny themselves and live as he lived.

Likewise in churches and organizations, the vision of God and His kingdom that once burned the founder with fire would gradually fade away, and his followers would build programs and institutions around his name and become increasingly concerned with the survival of those programs and institutions. Eventually, without intending to do so, they would extinguish the very fire that ignited their founder’s heart.

Such a pattern of decay in itself does not negate the need for programs and institutions, but it is a reminder of how we easily we forsake our first love (Rev. 2:4) in the process. There is nothing like success that reduces the vision into fixed programs and methods that once proved to be successful.

What then would sustain the fire of our first love? What would keep the fire burning in our hearts, our families, and our church? What would sustain the flame like the burning bush that would not go out?

There is only one thing that can sustain the flame: keeping the vision of God and His Kingdom continually before our eyes. This is the very vision that drew us to Christ in the first place, the first love that we received in our encounters with Christ.

By vision, we don’t mean the mission statement. The vision is about the Person, whereas the mission statement is about what we do. The vision is our mental images of God that are anchored to the Word, whereas the mission statement is our calling specific to our context.

The vision comes as we “gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and seek Him in His temple” (Psa. 27:4). More concretely, the vision comes as we enter the Gospel stories, encounter the Lord Jesus Christ, fix our eyes on Him, and soak ourselves in His life and teaching. As we do so, our mental images (vision) of God are shaped by who Jesus Christ is and what His Kingdom is like.

As you gaze upon the beauty of the LORD, may He grant you an immeasurably glorious vision of God and His Kingdom!

In the service of Christ,

– Pastor James

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