We all need vision, not just the Scots
Well, this time next week we will know the outcome, whether there will still be blue in the Union flag. Not that this has been an easy time for those of us south of the border watching with some concern the debate over the merits of Scottish independence. A key decision directly affecting our lives is being taken only by those north of the border, where increasingly passions are being stirred and sometimes stoked. As it happens the Church of Scotland has decided to take a neutral stance. After all someone has to pick up the pieces. In other words there is no Christian position as such. No one can presume to know how Jesus would vote. Clearly it is going to be close, much closer than some of my Scottish friends originally thought. I guess this is a result of the two sides taking not just different positions, obviously, but two very different approaches. The result is that the decision is being seen as Heart versus Head. So while the NO campaign have stressed the economic consequences of independence focussing on the problems and uncertainties, in contrast the YES side have shared a vision, however flawed, of a new Scotland. Some weeks back I was chatting with a group at our Saturday breakfast, visitors from another church. As often is the case they were overawed by the Ministry Centre and asked how it is was funded. When I said that essentially church members gave £1 million (to include the tithe, gift aid and interest received) even though our general fund is invariably under stress, one person commented that Christians will always give to the big vision. For as human beings we need vision, to see the bigger picture. We need to realize that we are not merely shaping just one stone but building a cathedral for God to be honoured. In fact, it was the remarkable Helen Keller, herself deaf and blind, who observed that it is a terrible thing to see and have no vision. This is, of course, how God has made us and so we need to see what he is showing us. This is very much the gift of the Holy Spirit. And so when Jesus was baptised in the river Jordan, what was the immediate effect? We read in Matthew’s Gospel: “As soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. . .” (Matthew 3:16). This vision, seeing heaven opened, gave direction to his ministry. And similarly at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit is poured on his believers, the apostle Peter could see what was happening in contrast to those watching. He referred them to the vision of the prophet Joel: ‘“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17). Very simply we need to see what God is showing us, vision inspired by the Holy Spirit. This will inevitably change the way we think and so the way we choose to live. Rick Warren comments “Vision is a power that motivates us to do great things, give great things, and love at all times. Vision keeps us going when there doesn’t appear to be any other reason to keep pushing forward toward the goal.”
May we respond to this exhortation from the apostle Paul: “Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.” (Colossians 3:2).