How Big is Your Vision?
Have you ever thought about what God could do through you to influence our own generation?
Have you ever tasted a nice, cool, refreshing Coke? Congratulations! So have hundreds of millions of other people all around the world. And it’s all Robert Woodruff’s fault.
Well, not all his fault. But he’s largely to blame.
You see, Woodruff, while president of Coca-Cola, had the audacity to state during World War II that "We will see that every man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca-Cola for five cents wherever he is and whatever it costs."
When the war ended, he went on to say that in his lifetime he wanted everyone in the world to have a taste of Coca-Cola. Talk about vision!
With careful planning and a lot of persistence, Woodruff and his colleagues reached their generation around the globe for Coke.
How Big Is Your Vision?
Have you ever thought about what God could do through you to influence our own generation?
I’m not kidding. Neither was the Lord Jesus Christ kidding when He called His disciples to gain a vision of impacting the world for His name.
The Twelve (minus Judas) listened intently as Christ sought to prepare them for His imminent betrayal and subsequent death.
"No matter what happens," He told them, "believe in Me. I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. I am in the Father and He is in Me. We work in unity. If you can’t believe My words alone, at least believe Me because of the miracles you have seen."
Then the Lord startled the apostles by saying:
“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it. If you love Me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:12-15).
Don’t underestimate those words. Read them again. Here in capsule form Christ challenges His disciples—and that now includes you and me—to dream great dreams, plan great plans, pray great prayers, and obey His great commands.
Dreaming Great Dreams
In the disciples’ minds, time was fast running out. For more than three years they had hoped that Christ would be the one who would redeem Israel and reign as Messiah. But now He was saying that one of them would betray Him and deliver Him up to the Jewish leaders to be crucified.
They couldn’t accept what He was telling them. "I will be with you only a little longer. I am going to the Father. …I am leaving you."
Everything within them screamed, "No! This can’t be true!"
So imagine what the Twelve thought when Christ went on to promise, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing" (John 14:12a).
Around the upper room table sat Peter, who had almost drowned trying to walk on water. And Philip, who waved his arms in exclamation when stating the impossibility of buying enough bread to feed the multitude. And Andrew, who with a number of the other disciples could not even heal a boy who was demon-possessed.
To each disciple Christ said, "You can continue the work I have been doing." And His promise is the same to you and me. He calls us to dream great dreams of what we can do to impact the world for His glory. How is this possible? The key is two-fold.
First, because Christ was going to the Father, He assured the disciples that He would send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to indwell all believers. Christ would now continue His work through us!
Second, Christ qualified His promise with a condition. Notice that He said, "Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing." The Lord challenges us to have faith—not necessarily more faith, but to have faith in Him. It is an on-going faith.
Renewing Your Vision
Have you stopped seeing great things happen in your life? Perhaps you have stopped believing that God can work in a mighty way in our generation. But what limits the work of God here on earth?
Is God somehow incapable of renewing the churches in America? Of turning the hearts of multiplied thousands to Himself? Of causing the fires of revival to spread throughout this country and beyond? Of course not! Yet God has chosen to limit His works, at least in some measure, to those things we trust Him to do through us.
Why is it that so few Christians ever accomplish great things for Christ? I believe it is because we lose the ability to dream great dreams. You see it happening all the time.
New believers are notorious for their enthusiasm and almost childlike trust in God. Accounts of such heroes of faith as Hudson Taylor, Corrie ten Boom, and Dawson Trotman inspire them to step out and attempt what others consider presumptuous.
But as time goes by, hardening of the spiritual arteries sets in and we become cynical. We lose the joy and thrill of the Christian life. We hear of something wonderful happening and say, "Oh?" as if it were nothing. How nonchalant we become about God’s work around the world!
In order for God to use us again, we need to confess our unbelief and say: "Lord Jesus, renew my vision of Your power. Renew my confidence in Your abilities. Renew my trust in Your resources." Then begin to dream again!
Christ Himself never limited His disciples' vision
Even though He restricted His own public ministry to Palestine, He came and lived and died for all mankind. And after His resurrection, He commissioned His followers to "make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19) and sent them first to Jerusalem, then to all Judea and Samaria, and ultimately to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
But the early church did what we all do—they hesitated to dream about what God wanted to do in their own generation. It finally took the stoning of Stephen and subsequent conversion of Saul to shake them out of their complacency.
While other believers scattered throughout Palestine, the Apostle Paul took Christ’s great commission seriously and devoted the latter half of his life to traveling and proclaiming the Gospel to the Gentiles.
In Romans 15 Paul records a summary of his first missionary journey. He had already given detailed oral reports to the church in Antioch (see Acts 14:27) and to the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:12). But here he simply states, "From Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the Gospel of Christ" (Romans 15:19).
Now, the distance from Jerusalem to Illyricum is some 750 miles over land. Yet Paul could look back on that trip and say, "Mission accomplished. I have fully proclaimed the Gospel in that entire area." Paul didn’t stop, however, and assume there wasn’t anything left to do. Instead, he was already dreaming of the mission fields beyond.
Impacting Our Generation
Where have your own dreams stopped? Have they been lost somewhere between your living room and the house next door? If your dreams aren’t greater than finishing your education, paying your bills, or raising your children, then your vision isn’t divine. Maybe it’s time to consider how God could use you to make a difference in the lives of others.
Opportunities to serve Christ abound throughout the world. Let me take you on a quick tour.
In Asia, religions such as Buddhism, Islam, and other traditional beliefs flourish. Missions experts estimate that only a small percentage of the Asian population could be called Christian. The Church there faces many obstacles and needs our help and encouragement.
In Latin America, traditional religion has flourished for centuries. In recent years, many Latin Americans have come to know Jesus Christ personally after hearing the Gospel proclaimed in mass crusades and broadcasts by radio and television.
During the last couple of decades I have been thrilled to see the tremendous growth of the evangelical church in Central and South America. I strongly believe that several nations could become 51 percent born-again believers within 10 or 15 years.
In Africa, Christianity is growing at an incredible speed. Mission strategists say that some 16,400 people are committing their lives to Christ throughout this continent each day! The fields are ready for harvest, but Bible teachers are needed to teach these Africans about their new-found faith and how to share it with still others.
In Europe, secularism and humanism prevail. The very nations that once sent missionaries throughout the world are now vast mission fields.
A BBC newsman in London once asked me why I was wasting my time trying to preach the Gospel in a "post-Christian" society. "Aren’t you just flogging a dead horse?" he wondered out loud.
"There is no such thing as a ‘post-Christian’ society," I replied. "One generation may reject the Gospel for itself, but it can’t reject it for future generations. And furthermore," I gladly added, "Jesus Christ specializes in raising the dead."
The Church in North America has been assisted by the growth of evangelical movements, Bible colleges, and Christian broadcasting. But we are still in danger of losing the vision that sparked this growth. If we drop the baton the previous generation entrusted to us, then we could become another spiritually dry Europe.
So the opportunities are great throughout the globe. But how can we impact our generation for Christ? Is it really possible to "preach the Gospel to all nations"?
I believe it is possible by taking God at His word and making plans to accomplish great things by His power working in us.
Plan Great Plans
Do you have dreams and plans of what God might do through your life? Or are you just busy with life’s routine, ordinary tasks? Have you become bored…or boring?
The Lord Jesus Christ challenges us to abandon our complacency when He says, "You can do even greater things than I have done through my Spirit who indwells you." He doesn’t intend for us to sir idly by and simply dream of what could happen for His glory. He wants us to plan great plans so that those dreams can come true.
William Carey upset the status quo of the church in his day when he proposed sending missionaries from Britain to evangelize other parts of the world. Older Christians told him to give up his preposterous ideas. Carey countered their boredom and doubt by writing, "Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God."
That statement became the creed of the modern missions movement as men and women followed Carey’s example and went to the ends of the earth with the saving message of Christ’s Gospel. Like Carey, God wants us to attempt great things for Him to reach our generation.
Over the years, God has stretched my own vision
At first, God burdened by heart for the city of Cordoba where I lived as a young man, then neighboring areas, then all of Argentina. Finally I dreamed of preaching the Gospel throughout all of Latin America.
But God wasn’t through with me yet. Today, in faith, my co-workers and I want to let the whole world hear the voice of God. With that dream, we are planning massive campaigns, multiplied by radio and television, to reach large segments of the world’s population. And by God’s grace, as partners in evangelism with other Christians and their churches and organizations, we are seeing hundreds of thousands of lives changed.
What about you? Are you expecting great things from God? Or are you letting the opportunities pass you by? If it’s true that the Lord wants the Gospel preached worldwide, than we can’t remain passive. Whatever our gifts or abilities or resources, we need to work together as faithful stewards of what God has bestowed on us.
Dream a little. Envision the 4 billion people who have not accepted the Gospel in this generation. Many have never even heard it explained to them. What are you going to do about it?
Start doing something by making specific plans of action. Determine how God could use you to share Christ at work, at school, in your neighborhood and beyond. Remember, God wants to use you. Let Him!
Are you willing to gain a vision of what God could do through you to win others to Himself? After all, God doesn’t have a Plan A, a Plan B, and a Plan C for evangelizing the world. He only has one plan … and that’s you and me.
Christ challenged His disciples 2000 years ago, and challenges us now, to dream, plan, pray, and obey. In which area are you strongest? Weakest? Talk with another Christian about what God's vision for your life might be.Find God's Vision