The Apostle Paul spent the better part of his life controlled by a Vision—to be the Apostle to the Gentiles—that God had placed in him over the course of about 10 years from his conversion.
“Apostle to the Gentiles,” really doesn’t’ say it all, however, because the Vision was much bigger than that—including the structuring of local churches, God’s expectations for leaders, and a focus on Spirit-filled leaders and relationship-based cooperation, the call for discipleship alongside evangelism, and so forth.
Paul not only had the Vision to share the Good News of Jesus to people all over the Roman Empire; He also had the Vision to share the Vision itself with those new converts—to keep them grounded and rooted in the Good News!!
God’s Vision for Paul not only included him preaching Jesus to a pagan world; it also included Paul raising up leaders who in turn raised up leaders. The Vision not only included him working alongside Barnabas but also equipping disciples like Luke and Timothy and Titus. It looked like depositing that Vision into the DNA of all the churches he planted. It looked like raising up local Elders. The God-sized Vision not only included disciple-making, it also included church planting, leadership structures, spiritual disciplines, holiness expectations, rejection of religiousness, grace towards sinners and backsliders, and on and on and on…
My point? A Godly Vision is a big Fire with lots of details and nuances and possibilities and turns and necessities and theological undergirdings and breathless expansions that defies a simple explanation and requires both time and real-life experiences to flesh out. When Father, Son, and Spirit were depositing into Paul during those years in Arabia, I sincerely doubt They included details about the night he would spend in a Philippian jail after being beaten half-to-death. But the Vision was enough to help Paul and Silas to know what to do—worship—despite the circumstances. As you know, heaven came down, the earth shook, and a Jailer and his family got saved…!
God has given us a huge Vision, an amazing Fire. As an Antioch Center, we are a hub of Kingdom activity, with the specific call to plant as many churches as possible in the Appalachia region. This is a breathing Vision—inward as the Spirit breaths in this local church, and outward as the Spirit breaths life into new churches—all of them duplicating the Spiritual DNA of Word, Worship, and Life Groups He has established here.
Disciples grow here—and many are sent out. Disciples from around the world are drawn here—to the call on their hearts to follow Jesus into the forgotten villages of America. Disciples remain here—to raise up more.
Breath in, breath out. Drawn to, sent forth. Grow up, go out. Raised up, staying put, and raising up the next generation. It’s a big Vision that I haven’t yet been able to communicate adequately. It’s just too big and glorious and hot. I promise I will let you know what all it entails as soon as we cross the finish-line together!
I simply ask that we hang together and walk this thing out. After all, Luke had no idea how the Book of Acts would form as he was walking with Paul through the experience of it all. Luke had no idea of the costs, the joys, the friendships, the glories, or the sufferings. But He walked with the Visionary Paul through a God-given Vision and saw a world changed—and wrote it all down so God could change our world…
Who knows? Perhaps we were born for such a time as this to help write Acts 29…!