When creating a list of “life-changing experiences,” most people probably wouldn’t put, “visiting the optometrist” very high on the list. But I would. I had gone through my early life not realizing that how I saw the world wasn’t normal. When I walked out of the doctor’s office with a new pair of glasses on for the first time I literally saw things I had never seen before. I could see each individual leaf on a tree or individual bricks of a building, or a person’s face across the room. It was amazing. A few years later, I returned to the doctor’s office for a checkup. Again, I walked out of the office and, surprisingly, I had the same experience of feeling like my sight was new again! My eyes had gradually gotten worse and I never noticed, but, boy, did I notice when my prescription was adjusted!
In much the same way as we walk through life with our eyes fixed on what God has entrusted to us to pursue, it is easy to gradually lose sight of that purpose and drift from that vision He has placed in our hearts. In Matthew 28 Jesus gives all believers for all times and all places the marching orders of “making disciples.” In His amazing grace, He has given each of us specific stories, skills, and spiritual gifts to carry out that common mission in unique ways. Similarly, He has brought together local bodies of believers in churches that are in specific places at specific times made up of unique believers with unique skill sets to make disciples in their context and to be a part of reaching the world together.
Churches often have a different language to describe what their calling is within their context, but it may often be expressed in a vision statement or mission statement defined by those entrusted with the spiritual leadership of that body. Whether explicitly stated or only implied by budget, time, and resource allotments, this vision sets priorities for how that body operates. No matter my role in that local body, be it pastor, Sunday School teacher, librarian, or “just a member,” if God has called me to be a part of that body, He has called me to be a part of advancing the vision He has given to that body for that season.
That’s where “vision screening” comes in. Just as I initially had no idea that my eyesight was poor, there are many of us participating in activities of the church or even leading within our church to do good things, but unless we intentionally shape those things to advance our church’s vision that is advancing the Great Commission, they can end up distracting from or being detrimental to advancing that vision. In the same way, there may be seasons where we have our eyes fixed on that vision more clearly than others. Stopping periodically and having a “vision screening” is the only way to make sure we stay focused. Our sight can so easily drift and we never notice until we go back and check our sight against the standard. It takes effort and work, but when we realize that God has entrusted a specific role to us within this body for this time to accomplish something bigger in His Kingdom, any task, great or small, takes on eternal meaning and importance. It’s all worth the effort.
So, how’s your “vision?” Does it need to be clarified? Have you gotten myopic, focused on the things close at hand while blurring everything out ahead? Have you gotten hyperopic, focused on the far away things while missing what’s nearby? Maybe it’s presbyopia — you just can’t focus on what’s under your nose. Hopefully it’s not omphaloskepsis — only gazing at your own navel (wants, desires, preferences). Do a little vision screening and “fix your eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” It can change your life and amplify your church’s kingdom impact.
— Creason is family and community life pastor at Germantown Baptist Church, Germantown. Creason led two church library conferences across Tennessee in September and will be leading two more in October. The theme for the conference is “Vision Screening Your Library.” For more information about the conferences, visit www.tnbaptist.org and search for library or contact Bev League at 615-289-8344.