Watchman! What of Your Vision?

How much does your vision en­compass?

By JOHN F. WRIGHT, Vice-President of the General Conference

Watchman, what of your vision? What a heart-searching, soul-stirring question! How tremendously pregnant with meaning! It grips the mind. It challenges the attention. Never has there been an hour when it was so weighty in its import. Sincerely pon­dering it for a moment in all its magnitude, we may well give it a personal application. For instance, just what is your vision? What is your perspective?

What is your outlook, as, together with your fellow workers, you face the unfinished task before us? How much does your vision en­compass? How does it measure up with the requirements made upon the church by the divine commission? It is well to pause and think. Just think it through calmly, soberly, definitely, and see how you check up.

There is but one answer to this vital ques­tion. It is this—one's vision must be heaven born. It must take in all that the heavenly vision takes in, and that is simply this: God's great missionary charter of Christ's kingdom is the gospel commission. It bears the divine credentials. It forms the Lord's charge to His church. Such a charge is world wide in its scope. It is all-inclusive in its undertaking. It embraces every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. In the formation of this plan, the Lord made no exceptions. And obviously, the church is granted no license to make any.

Vision to Embrace World Field

This being true, we may rightly conclude, and that without hesitation, that the vision of each individual disciple of the Lord Jesus must embrace the whole world field. Not only must such a vision be possessed, but it must be kept unobstructed and clear. It can never, with safety, be dimmed, narrowed, circumscribed, or localized, except at 60-rave loss.

Then, too, let it ever be remembered that the vision of such a world missionary program is the lifeblood of the church. Verily, it is the spiritual soul of the individual worker. Ex­perience has, taught the various Christian bodies in every age that when such a vision predominated and 6 motivated their every re­ligious activity, the spiritual status of both minister and lay member was such as shook the world and paralyzed the powers of dark­ness. But when that vision dimmed, when it did not embrace the world field, love waned, spiritual vigor lagged, and the fires of evan­gelism went out. How tragic, then, to lose that vision !

The danger which lurks everywhere today is that the vision of some will become circum­scribed. How sad, and yet how true it is, that many a worker in the service of God can see the need of only the territory over which he may preside. Naturally, it is incumbent upon each one to foster strongly, carefully, and wisely, the interests of the field over which he may have been appointed steward. But if his conception of the work includes no more than this, if his vision leads him to see only the need of one section of the great harvest field, he certainly misses the mark, and will fail to achieve all that the Master may properly expect of him when He returns to take an ac­count of his stewardship. Such a restricted view, if widespread among the ministry or the laity, would bring chaos to the body of Christ, and completely paralyze its world-wide mis­sionary program.

Ours Is a World-Wide Undertaking

Truly, then, the call of the hour is a world­wide vision. It is the only safe and satisfac­tory vision. We are admonished to lift up our eyes and behold the ripened field of earth everywhere. We must face more earnestly the great unfinished task. It is a world-wide undertaking which claims our attention. Our vision must take it all in. This is no time or place for a narrow, limited vision. No! No! A thousand times NO! Indeed, the gravity of the problem before us demands such a vision, individually as well as collectively. We cannot and we dare not transfer our obli­gation to a future generation. One of long and tried missionary endeavor has made this observation:

"On the present basis of missionary effort, prob­ably one third of the people of the world will die without hearing the gospel of the kingdom. To the colossal dimensions of the task and its staggering, intensive difficulties, the new difficulties which have entered into the situation" we must give heed. "We study the difficulties carefully, but we do not take counsel of them. A true soldier does not reckon up the costs involved ; he carries out the orders. A true Christian does not figure out the possibilities of success ; he does his duty. This generation of Christians must not base its program on the diffi­culties. It must meet its obvious responsibility. An impossible task ? Well, if it is, the glory of its accomplishment will be all the greater."—"The Call of a World Task," by J. Lowell Murray, p. 132.

O that somehow we might catch the vision!

Indeed, it is a task which is colossal in its dimensions. It is overwhelming in its magni­tude. It is an undertaking which is staggering with intensive difficulties. No one will deny this. However, this same writer goes on to suggest that instead of the difficulties' being the real cause of our lack of progress and advance, it is rather our lack of vision, and the fact that we have not laid hold of our possessions in spiritual things as we ought. This, he implies, has been the real hindrance to ad­vancement. Right in this connection Mr.

Murray continues:

"We have not possessed our possessions. While the years of the Christian Era have gone by, God has been waiting to be honored by the faith of a generation that would call upon Him for really large outpourings of His power. Our fault has been that we have limited God by the trifling dimension of our undertakings, by our failure to appropriate more than a meager supply of superhuman resources that are unlocked to the faith of human agents, and our unreadiness to throw ourselves into the ministry of intercession in the world's behalf."—M., p. 155.

In other words, he attacks the problem spe­cifically by asserting that it is our lack of faith and vision which has so retarded the complete and speedy evangelization of the world in this generation. This is strong reproof; yet it is worthy of our most earnest consideration. If we but catch the vision as it really is, we will see millions dying without hope of salvation, millions still bound in the chains of heathenism and superstition, millions groping in midnight darkness, millions crying for the message with which we have been entrusted.

Doors of opportunity are now open which may soon close to us forever. If we could but catch a vision of the situation and need as it really is, how our souls would be stirred ! And it will require just such a vision as this on the part of every worker to complete the task in this generation. "The evangelization of this world in this generation ! Let a man drive that stake and tie his soul to it, and there will be reality to his religion."—Id., p. 132.

This, then, is the vision that we need. Truly the hour is late. The night certainly draws on apace, when no man can work. "If other influence will not hold back until a future day, we dare not hold back our Christianity for a later generation to carry into all the world."—Id., p. 142. This task, though. a staggering one, is, thank God, not a hopeless one. "This is the only generation we can reach. But we cart reach it and all of it, with the Spirit and message of Jesus Christ."—Id., p. 161.

Then may not our ardent supplication to the. throne of divine grace be: 0 God, help up to gain this larger, broader vision; help us to keep' it clear and undimmed, and then through the enablings of divine providence, give us the power, the devotion, and the consecration, as well as the strength, to complete the task and to complete it quickly!

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By JOHN F. WRIGHT, Vice-President of the General Conference

October 1941

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