Bill Hybels defines vision as “A Picture of the future that creates passion in people.“
Today I am going to share with you the vision God has given me for Reality Church. And this vision has absolutely created a passion inside of me – so much so that I get chills, goose bumps, my heart starts racing, and sometimes I even get teared up when I think about it.
I have already shared this vision with many of you on a personal level, but I am so excited that I now have the opportunity to share it with all of you. Today I am talking about the vision – the picture of the future, the overall goal, the reason why I breath, and the dream that will drive what we do as a church until God tells us to stop. Vision is the answer to the question: What are we doing? What are we aiming for?
After today, the next two weeks I will be sharing our MISSION. Mission is how we plan to actually accomplish the vision.
I created this little graphic that will help illustrate this and the other concepts surrounding Reality 2.0. Imagine this is a road off into the distance. These two lanes are going the same direction, and the destination is what is showing on the big sign in the middle. That is the vision. The two lanes of the road are the mission. The vision is where we are going, the mission is how we will get there. That’s the next two weeks.
You will also see some other road signs that look kind of like speed limit signs. During the final two weeks I will be sharing our CORE VALUES. Core values define our personality. They are how we make decisions, and it is important that every active member know these core values by heart. They will shape the manner in which we go about working our mission and accomplishing our vision.
So, don’t miss the next four weeks. If you have to – watch it online.
Now, before I get into the thick of this and start getting all worked up, I need to do something that may help you hear what I’m saying better. What I’m about to unfold today, if you’re anything like me, may cause some emotions to stir inside of you. It might even give you chills or goose bumps. Your heart may start racing, and you may feel compelled to verbally acknowledge your agreement (or disagreement). Consider this permission to do so. Feel free to clap, shout, hoot, or holler if what I’m saying resonates with you. In order to help you out and get you loosened up, we’re going to practice a little bit….
PRACTICE SOME CROWD RESPONSE
Now before I come out and say what the vision is, I want to share with you a few stories that will illustrate it.
I’m going to start with a story from the Bible. Because before we can even have a road, or signs, or a destination – our foundation is God’s Word. Thus we will be GROUNDED IN GOD’S WORD, as you can see in the graphic.
1 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”
3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. 4 We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. 5 But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6 Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. 7 He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!
8 His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said he was, and others said, “No, he just looks like him!”
But the beggar kept saying, “Yes, I am the same one!”
10 They asked, “Who healed you? What happened?”
11 He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So I went and washed, and now I can see!”
12 “Where is he now?” they asked.
“I don’t know,” he replied.
13 Then they took the man who had been blind to the Pharisees,14 because it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud and healed him. 15 The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!”
16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath.” Others said, “But how could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?” So there was a deep division of opinion among them.
17 Then the Pharisees again questioned the man who had been blind and demanded, “What’s your opinion about this man who healed you?”
The man replied, “I think he must be a prophet.”
18 The Jewish leaders still refused to believe the man had been blind and could now see, so they called in his parents. 19 They asked them, “Is this your son? Was he born blind? If so, how can he now see?”
20 His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind, 21 but we don’t know how he can see or who healed him. Ask him. He is old enough to speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who had announced that anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue. 23 That’s why they said, “He is old enough. Ask him.”
24 So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”
25 “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”
The story continues a little more with the Pharisees badgering him and eventually calling him names and throwing him out.
But what a story – a man who is blind his whole life suddenly receives sight when he encounters Jesus.
And there are many more stories like this in the Bible – everywhere Jesus went he was healing people.
Have you ever thought about those people that he healed a few years down the line? We all know their stories, and they make for great coloring book pictures – but what do you think that blind man was doing a year later, five years later, ten? Do you think he was still sitting on the side of the road begging for money? Do you think he just went back to his normal life, only now he could see?
Or what about the lame people that he made to walk? Do you think they still had their friends carry them around? Do you think they still laid around on their mat begging for money? Or do you think their lives a few years later probably didn’t even resemble what it had been before?
What about the lepers he healed? – they were no longer outcasts.
What about the people who he cast demons out of? – they could finally be in their right mind again.
What about the dead people he brought back to life? Do you think they went back to hanging out in the grave or do you think something more than just their breathing changed?
Are you seeing what I’m getting at yet?
Are you noticing a PATTERN here?
Jesus wasn’t just in the business of motivational speaking and healing people’s physical infirmities – what he did for these people changed their whole lives around. He didn’t just mend a few scrapes and bruises – he restored what had been lost. He fundamentally transformed their lives so that they could no longer be the same.
And he didn’t just do it by healing people.
Look at the woman at the well. He gave her the living water. Do you think her life was the same after that?
Look at his disciples. Peter, James, and John were stinky fishermen. Matthew was a hated cheat tax collector. The others weren’t much better – and they were all big cowards who ran at the first sign of trouble, but by the end of the story they become the bold initiators of a movement that changed the world that resulted in us being here right now.
Look at Paul who started out as Saul the hate breathing murderer of Christians, but he has an encounter with the risen Christ and becomes Paul the self sacrificing people loving missionary to the Gentiles and author of most of the New Testament so that we too could hear the good news of Christ 2000 years later!
Are you noticing a pattern here yet? Are you seeing the trend?
Jesus wasn’t just in the business of healing a few sicknesses and motivational speaking.
Jesus fundamentally changed people’s lives!
And he’s still doing it today!!
And I am living proof!!
I was an
with no true purpose in life
who found myself at the end of my rope where I had an encounter with the risen Christ and he came in and fundamentally changed me into the man you see today.
I am not the same!
I am a new creation.
There is no other explanation!
This has happened to so many people for thousands of years. This has happened to many of you. Your life is fundamentally changed and there’s no other explanation!
It’s because the only answer is Jesus, who doesn’t leave us as we are, but makes us whole, makes us new!
And don’t just take my word for it – here’s a video of some brave souls telling the same kind of story:
This, my friends, is the greatest proof of our faith. All the apologetics and debates are great, but in the end there is only one thing that cannot be debated away, that can’t be refuted, that can’t be denied….a changed life.
I can’t answer all of your questions…all I know is that I was blind, but now I can see.
I once was lost, but now I am found.
LOST -> FOUND
HOPELESS -> HOPE
CONDEMNED -> REDEEMED
IN CHAINS -> SET FREE
IN DESPAIR -> JOY UNSPEAKABLE
INNER TURMOIL -> PEACE THAT PASSES UNDERSTANDING
DEAD IN MY SINS -> ALIVE IN CHRIST
I once had no purpose in life – now I know my purpose, my calling, my God-made reason for existing and it gives me a reason to get out of bed with a smile on my face!
I am not the same.
I am a life changed.
And there’s no other explanation!
There’s nothing else like it – and you can’t get it anywhere else.
HERE’S THE BEST PART
He CHANGES YOU,
then he USES YOU
to CHANGE OTHERS.
He uses people to reach people so that He can change them and restore them to who he made them to be.
That is what the great commission is all about.
Just before he ascended into heave he told his disciples these immortal words:
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Make disciples – do what I’ve been doing with you.
And that is what drives me. I am a life changed, so woe to me if I do not give my life in the cause of giving that same life change to others. And that is what this church will be about as long as God lets me lead you.
We will be a church that is DEDICATED to seeing LIVES CHANGED by the transforming, restoring power of Jesus Christ.
It’s not about numbers in the seats. It’s not about how cool we are. It’s not about trying to reach everyone.
We are not interested in mere conversions. Salvations and baptisms are great, but if someone has been with us for more than a year and has seen no significant difference in their life, then we have failed. We have failed the great commission and we have failed our unique calling.
I’m not just talking about a few changes in behavior, but the whole life transformation from the inside out that only Jesus can give. The kind of life change you saw in the people in the video. The kind of life change that all those bible stories talk about. The kind of life change that I have experienced, and many of you as well.
We live in a broken world. There is so much pain and hurt around us, and we hold the only cure. Like Jesus told the woman at the well – the water you drink here only lasts a little while, you will have to keep coming back, but I can give you living water and you will never thirst again.
The world cannot provide what only Jesus can give, and we are called – we are charged by God to bring that living water to a thirsty thirsty people.
So, the vision for this new version of Reality, Reality 2.0:
REALITY 2.0 VISION:
We will be a church that is DEDICATED to seeing lives changed by the transforming, restoring power of Jesus Christ.
In short: CHANGED LIVES
Now, I want you to hear a song by a man who has experienced this kind of change. Andy Fantin has been with Reality now for about 4 years and is normally the guy making all of us sound good. He approached me several weeks ago about possibly performing a song on a Sunday morning. He’s never done that here – and I’ve never heard him sing (so I hope he’s good) – but it felt right that he should do it today because I think his story and the song he is singing are exactly what I’m talking about. So, please give it up for our very own Andy Fantin.
Now, before we finish today, some things this vision is not:
This is NOT a prosperity gospel. Changed Life does not mean you will accomplish the American Dream – that’s the American Dream, not the God’s-Will-For-Your-Life Dream.
10 The thief (the world, the flesh, and the devil) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.
He’s not talking about being rich. He’s referring to the same life that he promised the woman at the well. It is an abundant life because it is one of contentment and purpose, of having more than enough in all areas of life and knowing your reason for living. What good are riches with no friends, peace, or contentment?
This is NOT a happily-ever-after gospel. Jesus never promised that we would be happy all the time or that nothing bad would ever happen. In fact, he promised the opposite:
33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
What Jesus offers is not happiness – which depends on external circumstances, but joy – a fruit of the Holy Spirit – which comes from within and cannot be shaken by difficulties.
So, that’s it. That is what we will be about from this day forward. We will be focused on one thing, and one thing only – seeing lives changed, seeing lives restored,
- the LOST – FOUND
- the HOPELESS find HOPE
- the BROKEN made WHOLE
- the DESPERATE find JOY
- the TROUBLED find PEACE
- the BOUND set FREE
by the transforming, restoring power of our Lord and Savior: Jesus Christ.
Today was all about the vision – the overall, big picture, thing we are called to accomplish, our ultimate goal. It’s the destination on the road sign.
Over the next two weeks, I will be sharing our mission – how it is that we are going to accomplish the vision. How will Reality Church be used to bring about life change in people. It’s the two lanes of our highway that is headed toward our goal.
And if you remember from what I’ve been talking about for the last two months – the one word that can sum up our mission is TOGETHER. That means each one of you has a vital role to play in this – so be here. Don’t miss this.