Tuesday, January 26, 2016

God's Vision - Week 1

As a kid I grew up dreaming about becoming one of two things. I either wanted to be a professional baseball player or a fighter pilot. I think I wanted to be a fighter pilot after watching the movie Top Gun. It looked like amazing fun and I thought, those guys must be the coolest people. But as I grew older I realized that I didn’t have the drive to become a pilot, nor was my eye sight good enough for that occupation.
That’s when I decided to work even harder at my dream of becoming a professional baseball player. But that too hit some road blocks when I realized how good you have to be to play at that level. 
Let me break down the numbers for you to show you what my chances were of attaining either of these dreams.
Did you know that there’s only about 13,000 active Air Force pilots right now? That means, out of the roughly 64 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 35 who are eligible to become pilots, only .02% of those Americans will be an Air Force Pilot. Hence, one of the reason why I didn’t become an Air Force pilot. But what about being a Major League Baseball player?
Well, there are roughly 22 million Americans that play baseball every year. There are 30 major league teams with 25 man rosters. That works out to roughly 750 players per season who play at that level. Which means that it is less than .00% chance to play at that level. So my odds are better at becoming an Air Force pilot than they are playing at the Major League level.
And you have just witnessed the crushed dreams of a little kid in all their glory. Heartbreaking, I know. But we all have those dreams right? Those dreams that we had as little kids about what our lives would be like when we grew up. We had visions about the adventures that we would go on, the jobs we would have, the places and people we would meet. Some of those visions might have come true, others might not.
How hard did you try to make those visions a reality? The whole pilot thing didn’t last too long. In fact, around that same time, I wanted to be a ninja turtle; which obviously didn’t work out either. On the other hand, I did try hard to make my major league dreams come true, but God that also got derailed in part, because I decided to submit my life to God’s direction.

Have you ever thought that God had a vision too? That he wanted something to happen, but it didn’t work the way he had intended?
I want us to take a brief look through the Bible to not only discover what God’s original vision was, but what he has done since then to make it a reality. Would you open your Bibles up to Genesis 1, where we’ll be looking at verse 31.
As we dive into our passage, we’re stepping into the midst of God creating the universe. At this point God has created the sun, moon, stars, water, land, animals, elements, atomic particles and even time itself. But in all of this God has created humanity, a creature that is distinct in creation. Humanity is distinct because it has been created in the image of its Creator. Humanity has feelings, comprehension skills and artistic abilities. That’s when we come to verse 31, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.”

In these few words we can see the vision of God. God created a place that was perfect. Every tree, animal, star, galaxy and human was just the way God had envisioned they’d be. When it says that God saw that it was very good, let’s not treat that to lightly. These two words, very good, carry with them the weight of God’s satisfaction and joy at what he created. Everything, from the biggest galaxy to the simplest grain of sand, was exactly where God wanted it to be and how he intended it to function. God’s vision had become our reality.
But God’s vision wasn’t just to create something that was good, but to interact and live with his creation. Later on in Genesis 3:8 were told that God, “…was walking in the garden in the cool of the day…"
God’s vision entailed him creating a perfect place where he could interact with his creation and share with them all that he was.
But as it is with most visions, something went wrong. In the same chapter that we learn that God walks with his creation, we, humanity, cause God’s vision to become corrupt. We were the cause of all the pain, the suffering, the diseases and rebellion that came into God’s perfect creation. We shattered the perfect place that God created us to live in. We shattered the relationship that God created us to experience. And in the end, we shattered the vision that God had for his creation.
When I realized that I didn’t have the drive nor the sight to be a fighter pilot, I was crushed. When I realized just how good major league players were, and the fact that I wasn’t that good, I was crushed. My vision of my life was shattered. And I gave up on those dreams.
But God hasn’t given up on his vision. God didn’t give up when humanity turned its back on him. Instead, God began fighting for humanity, desiring that they would come back into his vision to live where they were supposed to live. God desired that humanity would worship him as God and that he would live with them always. In fact, from then on God would share that vision with person after person. Genesis 17:7-8, he tells Abraham, “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”
God’s telling Abraham, look my vision is for you and your descendants to worship me as God and I will interact with you. Just like he intended to do from day one of creation.

Later on he told Moses in Leviticus 26:11-12, “I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.”
He’s again, telling about his original vision for his creation; a vision of the Creator living and interacting with his creation.

Then hundreds of years later he told the prophet Ezekiel, “ My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
Are we seeing a common thread? The Creator wants to interact with his creation, to the point of living side-by-side with it.

But we could easily say, “Well that’s just for the Jews right? When God says my people, he’s talking about Israel, right.” Nope, because in the New Testament both Paul and Peter pick up this idea quoting the passage we just discussed when talking about the Church. 
In fact, to the Apostle John at the end of God’s written word, tells him, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
This is written in the book of Revelation which is meant for a universal audience of both Jew and Gentile, both believer and non-believer, both Israel and the Church.
Any who trusts in Jesus as their Savior become the people of God. 
So we see, from the beginning of God’s word to the end of God’s word, God is sharing with us his vision. In fact, this vision shows itself in every pivotal point in biblical history. From the founding of the nation of Israel, to that nation being forced into captivity, to the establishment of the Church of Jesus. In fact, when talking about how God was going to come to earth to walk as the God-man Jesus, he tells Isaiah the prophet, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” That name Immanuel literally means, “God with us.” God desires for his creation to not only worship him as God, but to live life with him. God desires for us to live within his vision and he is willing to fight for it.
That’s one of the reasons Jesus came and died. He came to bring back God’s vision; he came to fight for it. God has never abandoned humanity, even though humanity has tried to abandon him. God will not give up on his vision of a perfect creation with whom he can interact and live with. Jesus’ death on the cross, his resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on his Church are proof of God’s desire to bring his vision into reality.

So where does that put us? We know God’s vision is to have a perfect creation with whom he can interact with. But the reality is, we’re not perfect. We’re still in that rebellious state. Too often we live outside of God’s vision. In fact, we tend to want our own dreams and visions above his. Right? 
God is calling each of us to put aside our own visions of what our life should be like and to embrace his vision for us. I’ve had a lot of visions of how I wanted my life to turn out, yet God keeps bringing me back to his. And it’s only when I give into that vision that I experience the satisfaction and joy that he felt when he completed his creative work.
The question now is, what’s the next step. We know what God’s vision is and we know that he wants us to leave our visions behind and follow his. But how, how do we do that?

Well, within God’s vision, there’s his game plan. See there’s an aspect of God’s vision that we didn’t go over today. Have you ever took a hard look at a sports team? In game one of every season, every team has the same vision: they want to win the championship. But, only the one that fights the hardest, who battles through the longest, is crowned the champion. And in fact Jesus says in Revelation 21:7, “Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.”
God’s vision is that all his creation would live with him. That he would be able to interact with it. That’s God’s Day One, Game 1 vision, that he will see through to the championship. But to get that vision, God is willing to work game to game.
While I was working toward that professional baseball dream, I was always told by my coach, “You win the game by winning one pitch at a time.”
That’s the vision I had for every game I played in: one pitch, one win and when I had enough wins, I’d win the game.
God has a one pitch vision too, and it’s in that one pitch vision that he calls each of us to.

In the weeks to come, we’ll explore God’s one, pitch one win vision or in other words, God’s mini-vision for his people.