God's Call to Action
If we have ‘caught the vision splendid’ then we must align ourselves with that vision and make it our number one priority. We must go back to the way God intended it to be in the first place.
We must get back to scripture and appreciate that it is the word of the Lord. In 1 Corinthians 3:11–14 we note the following: ‘For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives he will receive his reward.’
It is what we read in scripture that will guide us.
The General of The Salvation Army, Linda Bond, has cast a fresh vision for our international church with the catch cry of: ‘One Army, one mission, one message’. General Bond elaborates on this simple message:
‘I see a God-raised, spirit-filled Army of the 21st century, convinced of its calling and moving forward together, into the world of the broken, lonely and lost, and reaching them with love by all means—and with Jesus’ transforming message of freedom, hope and life.’
All of my instincts tell me the General is right. Let us be the salvation people God calls us be with our distinctive message and approach. In Australia, we enjoy an unprecedented acceptance among the general population. They love the Salvos and support us financially, giving far in excess of what may be regarded by some as being extravagant. If such acceptance is universal, it should be reasonable to expect a ready and willing acceptance of our message: that Christ brings salvation, freedom and hope.
However, this does not seem to be the case. Rather, they like what we are and do, but do not readily want to join us. This puts many Salvationists on their guard. Their dream or vision does not include those outside of our formal membership as soldiers.
Yet, I believe others may share our passion for membership if given the opportunity. It is my experience that if they will be given an invitation, they would join with us in corporate worship.
This dream or vision must capture our faith and hope so that we see the harvest for the kingdom and share in the passion of Jesus to help bring our friends and neighbours into this kingdom.
‘During the night Paul had a vision of a man in Macedonia standing and begging him “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.’ (Acts 16:9, 10)
Is there such a person in your sphere of influence who is praying that you will come and help them?
With regard to General Linda Bond’s view of vision and mission, she goes on to say, ‘What needs to take place and must take place is to do something.’ Also, ‘We continue to seek God’s will as we move forward.’
This is consistent with Luke’s record in Acts 16, quoted above. Note that once the vision had been recognized as coming from God, they responded immediately and they concluded that it was within the will of God that they made this response. There was a desire to meet the vision’s expectation that they immediately got going on their mission.
There was no conference or committee. They were so much in harmony with what God wanted of them that they knew quite spontaneously what they must do. They DID something. They did not sit around and waste time, they seized upon the moment of their opportunity. And so the Good News came to Philippi. People heard the good news and were saved—simply because God’s people caught the vision and did something about it.
William and Catherine Booth were similar in that they responded to the needs about them. They saw the wrecked lives about them, they saw the squalor that invaded the lives of those who inhabited the gin palaces and determined to do something.
A vision or a dream will do that; IT will move someone to do something that will make a difference. That is why Joel identified those who would make a difference. Young people with visions. Old people with dreams. Old and young alike involving themselves with God’s purposes on this earth. Doing something for God.
What will you do?
The following words penned by Salvationist William Himes, seems to capture the desired attention:
All that I am, all I can be,
All that I have, all that is me,
Accept and use, Lord,
As you would choose Lord,
Right now, today!
Take every passion, every skill;
Take all my DREAMS
And bend them to your will.
My all I give, Lord,
For you I’ll live, Lord,
Come what may.
The Final Argument
So, what can we conclude from the discussion on this matter in the preceding pages?
Does God speak to us today by means of dreams and visions? Is the dream merely for old people and the visions reserved for the younger generation?
The conclusion that I find most intriguing is that God can communicate his message and vision to anyone he likes and in the manner he chooses! He is God and, rather than tell him what to do, I think our obedience to his will and purposes is paramount.
What can we conclude from Joel’s prophecy in relation to the old people and the young people? Was he right? It is my view that at that time it may have been the custom for old people to ponder their dreams in the way that, today, friends meet each other and chat about the weather. They would have met and shared their dreams, visions and hopes for a better world.
In the same way, the youth of today may get together and share their vision for their church. They want to see some action that will see God’s Kingdom flourish and grow. They desire to see it happen and can’t stand to see idleness in the congregation. God’s work is important and requires the commitment of God’s people.
It is exciting to engage with God. It calls us to exercise our faith in him and to believe that he will accomplish his purposes through us. He promised that he would accomplish the impossible if we even have faith no bigger than a mustard seed.
On more than one occasion, Jesus took issue with his disciples for their lack of faith. He wants us to take that leap of faith that will challenge our confidence in human terms. But with His Spirit enabling us, we will be able to move mountains in the interests of seeing his Kingdom grow.
Are we ready to move some of those mountains?
Do you have a vision or dream for extending God’s Kingdom?
May we not be so concerned with our failures in the past but, so that we may conform to your will and purposes now, may we draw our strength from you and dare to challenge the status quo. Help us to be disturbed and come out of our comfort zone and be bold for you.
In Jesus’ name.