Stephen Wise said: "Vision looks inward and becomes duty. Vision looks outward and becomes aspiration. Vision looks upward and becomes faith." I love this quote. It helps explain some of the spiritual detours we are tempted to take on our road to fulfilling God's vision for Community.
In the midst of incredible blessings from God we still get tired. There are more needs to meet, more spaces to prepare, and more names to learn. People are already investing a great deal. We could choose to focus on what achieving God's vision is costing us (time, comfort, energy, etc.). At the moment we focus on ourselves, our investments become duty and drudgery. Vision looks inward and becomes duty.
Another detour is to become so focused on our numbers and our growth that we subtly shift our focus from blessing people to counting them. We become overly concerned about how other people view our church. We begin comparing ourselves with others and dreaming our own grandiose dreams that have little to do with God's vision for our Body. Vision turned outward becomes aspiration.
How would God have us respond to His blessings? A healthy response requires that we look up. When we see God doing His work among us it should deepen our faith. The good news is not that we are having success. The good news is that God has chosen to stir among us. The good news is not that our numbers are increasing. The good news is that God is changing lives, families, and futures. The good news is not simply that good things are happening. The good news is that we can undeniably attribute them to an incredibly powerful, incredibly loving God who has invited us to call Him Father. Look to Him. Vision that looks upward becomes faith.
"We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." I Thess. 1:2-3