Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Vision Thing (4): Misapplying the Vision

William Blake, Job Confessing His Presumption to God Who Answers from the Whirlwind (1803-05)

I have proposed that when people seek vision most of them are seeking what they ought to do. Some thoughtfully seek a vision of what is as God sees it. But I have argued that before seeing either of these, a person needs a vision of God himself. This is not only because God generally does not give a vision of what is or what we ought to do before displaying himself. It is also because people who see the world as God sees it without seeing God are liable to misapply the vision they have seen.

The Book of Job is a prime example of this. One of Job's erstwhile friends, Eliphaz, describes a vision he had in which it was revealed to him that not a single human being is righteous before God as evidenced by the sudden deaths that afflict humankind. But Eliphaz could not apply this true principle properly to Job. In fact, God angrily rebukes Eliphaz "because you have not spoken about me what is right, as my servant Job has" (42:7).

But Job himself had received his own rebuke from God. Job had seen that God destroys and renders impotent the mighty and important and uncovers their supposed wisdom for the foolishness it is. But that true vision of Job did not prevent God from reproving him as one "who darkens counsel with words without knowledge" (38:2).

What Job, Eliphaz, and the rest were missing was not a grasp of true principles but a vision of the God of truth himself. Once Job saw God in his dreadful majesty, he despised himself and repented in dust and ashes (42:6). Then he really saw, and then he was saved.

Knowing what the world is and how it works form an important element of vision. But these, even if correct, will lead us foolish humans astray if we lack a vision of the God from whence they come. We are bound to misapply the principles if our eyes wander from the God who speaks them.

There are so many people and churches with no vision at all. But of those who have grasped God's vision, how many succumb to the temptation to apply it with such singleminded enthusiasm that God himself moves offstage? What havoc visionaries without a vision of God can wreak.

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