Sunday, May 5, 2013

Questions for the Purpose-Driven Vision-Casting Blackabeans

"Now these in Blackabea thought themselves with their God-experiences more noble than those in mere Christendom; they received the extra-Biblical revelation with all eagerness, examining their circumstances, subjective impressions, and liver shivers daily to see if these things were right in their own eyes." (Not-Acts 17:11)

One of the big trends in what we still call evangelicalism over the last couple of decades has been the development of 'vision'. It goes by many names and takes many forms, but it all amounts to roughly the same thing - discovering extra-Biblical revelation of God's specific will, for you individually or for your church/ministry. You need to discover your purpose, and become purpose-driven, completely oriented towards fulfilling that purpose. You need to discern where God is working and how He is inviting you to join Him in that work. You need to identify God's vision for you and cast it to others.

Do this well, and your life will be meaningful and blessed. Your ministry will be more powerful that you can possibly imagine. You will experience God as you drive towards your purpose and fulfill your special calling and probably earn a trophy or something.

Fail to do this, and... oh man. I shudder to think of how horrible and purposeless and worthless your existence is. You'll be sentenced to the worst curse imaginable - being ordinary. Yikes. Just consider the horror of the man who loves his neighbor as himself, but never figures out where exactly he's supposed to be doing this or which particular neighbor he's supposed to particularly love, so he just loves them all indiscriminately. What a pathetic waste of protoplasm!

Clearly nobody would want to be like that, just being sanctified and obeying scripture all willy-nilly wherever he happens to be. No, we need something more. Obviously, we all must find our purposeful vision of God-experience. Like, duh.

But still, I have a few questions for the experts in this field. For instance:

How close to God's vision for my life is close enough? If God is calling me to be a missionary in France, and I get things a little messed up, and serve as a missionary in Belgium, is that OK? Or is my life and ministry doomed to endless frustration and worthlessness because I missed God's specific calling for me? What if it's not that close, like instead of going to France, I go to Pakistan or North Korea? Or maybe I'm not a foreign missionary at all, but instead just pastor a church at home for a couple decades. Is there any good that can come from that, or is it so far off my calling that it's a fate worse than death?

What if I love/evangelize the wrong people? You know - like what if God is working on my coworker Steve and inviting me to join, but I misinterpret the impression I got while praying my vision prayers, and accidentally told Brian about Jesus instead? Is it a sin for me to have proclaimed the gospel to the wrong person?

What if someone doesn't get on board with my vision? Can I make him another dead body in the pile behind my bus, or giving him a catapult ride out of the county? Isn't that more appropriate for, I dunno, prosperity-gospel spewing Sabellian false teachers than for actual Christians who just don't agree with my extra-biblical ideas? But wait - if my vision is from God, for them to disobey or even question it is sin. So even if they don't disobey anything actually in the Bible, I can still excommunicate them for the sin of disagreeing with me, right?

Isn't all the stuff that's actually in the Bible enough? I mean, Jesus gives a decent enough mission statement for his church, and there's a bunch of other stuff about what kind of people we will become and what we should be doing. Isn't that enough for equipping us for every good work, without the need for additional specific revelation? Where in scripture are we told to be looking for this kind of thing, anyway?

Remember when Gnosticism with its secret knowledge only available to a select few mega-apostles was such a threat to the early church? Why, exactly, do we need to re-introduce it and try to mainstream it?

Finally, did I really make it through an entire post about finding your special purpose without making a Navin R Johnson joke?


Carl C. said...

Wow, I simply cannot stop laughing. This is such a great way to pry the lid off this issue that has simmered just under the surface of evangelicalism for so long now. And you get at least 6 trophies for coining Blackabeans. Thank you for this article!

Whozep68 said...

It remains me of Colossians 2:16-19 where talks about those that go on and on able what they have seen and the worship of angels in their puffed up unspiritual head though disconnected from the real head,Christ Jesus.

Carl C. said...

Saw this just today on a Christian website design service. It seems only loosely related – but surely apropos – to your post:

A Purpose Driven Church Website

The purpose of your church website is to ensure that your mission continues accomplishing what God has placed in your heart. By communicating a clear message and creating ways for visitors to respond to your calls of action, you can rapidly develop new relationships, raise funds, and encourage participation in your church's activities. Only by having your own church website can you accomplish all of these things in one place with your message.

(Emphasis mine)

A porpoise-drivel website – Aak! Soon we'll be having purpose-driven cellphones, cars... come to think of it, this might just be the new energy source that's the panacea for EVERYTHING! I'll get my Top Men right on it, just as soon as I feel led to.