Vision, Wisdom, Zeal

Rev. Chip Hammond

Just after the roof went on the new building addition things started to really happen – plumbing, electric, duct work, dry wall. On the second Friday evening in March I stopped by the building.  The workers were all gone, and I went out and walked the building. I was overcome by a wave of emotion of the enormity of what God has provided for us.

A flood of thoughts came to my mind, and the words of Jesus: "From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked" (Luke 12:48).

A generation ago a group of Christians obtained land and built the original church building with its beautiful chapel. They were not building it for themselves. They were simply custodians of it who used it to the glory of God. They prayed earnestly for the rising generation, and then in the course of time passed it on to us (although like Caleb, when the Promised Land was finally taken, there are still some among us who were a part of that seminal generation!)

We by the grace of God have built a building! But we are not the owners of it, only the custodians of it for a time. We will pass it on, and it behooves us to pray now for the generation that will take the custodianship of it from us. May those who occupy this place always be faithful to King Jesus, always abide by the Word of God, always proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom and promote the Glory of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But until such time as we pass it on, we have work to do. "From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

Spiritually speaking, Bethel is an extraordinarily spiritually vibrant and healthy church. This is not merely my observation or opinion. Everyone who preaches here or visits with us comments to me on the same. God has done something amazing and unique here.

Among Orthodox Presbyterian Churches, Bethel is also one of the larger ones. There are some larger Orthodox Presbyterian Churches, but there are many, many smaller ones.

And now we stand on the brink of occupying this tremendous facility. God has given it to us, and while we may and should enjoy it, God has not given it to us for us. He has given it to us to increase His fame, to press His Kingdom, and to propagate the gospel of His Son. We dare not have parochial, pedestrian thoughts toward our ministry and place in God’s plan, for God has certainly not had small thoughts toward us!

"From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

As I have mediated and prayed on these realities, I began to ask the Lord for three things, and I call on our elders, deacons, and members of the congregation to beseech the Lord for them with me. These three things are vision, wisdom, and zeal.

In the Bible the word “vision” means revelation. It is the Word of God given to and through the apostles and prophets. I am not speaking of “vision” in this way. By asking God for “vision” I mean to ask Him to give us eyes to see the possibilities.  Vacation Bible School exists because someone before my time here had a vision. M&Ms and 1T4-8 exist because someone had vision.

Eighteen years ago when I came here I had all kinds of vision. Then reality struck. A great many of the things I wanted to do would require space and a physical plant that we simply did not have. As the actuality sank in, rather than let it discourage me I began to pray.

Almost a decade ago a sense of vision prompted us to contract to have an architectural feasibility study done. The result of that was a conceptual plan and drawing for a building that looked much like the building that is being constructed as I write this. But the cost of the project seemed out of reach. Rather than let it discourage me, I began to pray.

Eighteen years is a long time – for me, not for God. Jesus told us we should pray and not give up (Luke 18:1). I can testify to the truth of what Jesus said, but I confess that while I never completely gave up, at times I took a break because it seemed so impossible. But with God all things are possible, and though I may grow weary, He never did. Just look out back where the rear parking lot used to be.

We need to pray now for renewed vision.  For eighteen years I had become accustomed simply to "making do" with what we had, and many of you have done the same. Pray and ask God for vision, and let your vision be large! Ask Him to give us vision to see all the possibilities that are before us.

But vision won’t be enough. We also need wisdom.

The roots of the biblical concept are in the Old Testament. In the Bible, "wisdom" is not the esoteric detached thing that it often was for the Greeks. In the Old Testament the word for "wisdom" also means "skill." The word was used of the craftsman who constructed the tabernacle.

In the Bible "wisdom" is never abstract or heady. It is always practical. The carpenter who knows to crown the boards of a floor so that it does not develop edges that can be tripped on is "wise."

Vision – ideas for new and bigger ways to make the gospel known – will do us no good without wisdom. Apart from wisdom we would be little better than the people who sit in bars on Friday night "solving the world's problems."

We need to ask God for vision, but also for wisdom to be able to implement that vision. Wisdom is simply the skill to take the concept or picture that we gain through vision and devise a practical means of making it a concrete reality.

Lastly, we need to pray and ask God for zeal. Zeal is an earnest desire and determined commitment to see a thing through despite the odds, obstacles, or difficulty. It was the zeal of the LORD himself that accomplished our salvation (Is. 9:7). We need to ask God for zeal to earnestly desire and ardently determine to persist in making a reality of what we gain through a vision for the glory of God, and what we practically plan for by way of the wisdom God gives.

In a day when commutes are long, work is hard, and employment is uncertain, zeal for the work of the LORD may languish. The Lord told us through His apostle Paul that we should not grow weary in doing well (2 Thes. 3:13), for we will reap the satisfaction of it if we don’t give up (Gal. 6:9). That is the fruit of zeal.

"From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

God has given us much. He has entrusted us with much. We have a great, spiritually mature, spiritually healthy Church with a phenomenal facility. He expects us to use these blessings to increase His fame and for His glory. And our kind Master says to us as it were, "And enjoy the things I’ve given you very much as you use them for My glory until you pass them to the next generation for custodianship."

"From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

Seek the Lord with me, that he will give us vision, wisdom, and zeal.