When the bible says: “where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18), it may mean different things to different people, but one thing we can all agree on is that it means that we should be looking forward, not behind.
As people of faith, we are to be looking at what is to come, not reminiscing about the past. Mind you, the past has many valuable lessons to teach—that’s undeniable—but our focus should be on what is coming down the pike.
And what is coming down the pike? Well, in many ways God gives us the free will to decide. That is where the “vision” comes in. What is our vision for the future of God’s creation? What is your vision for your life?
A vision is different than just making things up. It has somehow become fashionable in government today to not admit that things happened or were said but rather to simply say that they didn’t and thereby create a new truth. Reality can be erased simply by saying it didn’t happen. Convenient, yes, but hardly true (or perhaps is true but only for those who are still struggling with “object permanence” from toddlerhood). In any case, that is not visioning.
In biblical terms, a vision is a gift of God. Well, how do you get such a gift? First, by being in relationship with God and listening for God’s direction in your life and in the world. To be honest, you already operate out of a vision given to you by God; even if you don’t know your bible all too well!
For example, you go about your day understanding that murder is wrong (at least I hope you do!). Farther along that continuum are greed, pride, wrath, lust. These are among the “deadly sins” that we are taught by tradition to avoid but are also part of the vision from God given to us for healthy living. (Again, there are those in power who, ironically and dangerously, seem to find these last four to be virtues to be practiced unabashedly).
With those three ingredients in mind: 1. A relationship with God that allows for listening, 2. Characteristics that foster our best and healthiest selves and, 3. Outreach to those who are rejected, what is our vision? What greater gift is God trying to bestow upon us? Upon you?
I would say that now, more than ever, the Christian faith is countercultural because the vision given to us by God stands in opposition to the current direction we are heading in. That is less because of conflicting visions, but rather because of the absence of a vision on the part of those charting our course.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish”. God wants no one to perish. God wants us to “have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). For that to happen, we need to define God’s gift of a vision and, most importantly, act upon it!
How? It starts with our daily interactions and ends with public advocacy work. It means remembering what defines God and asking “does this opportunity, relationship, or legislation am–Rev. Dominicplify welcome, wholeness, health, and equality?” and let that be our vision-litmus test.
Anytime (NOW comes to mind) is a perfect time to start!