A Vision from God

man walking into vortex
Image credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/h-k-d/6431002755/">Hartwig HKD</a>

Galatians 1:10-12

 So, whose approval do you think I’m looking for: people’s or God’s? Do I sound like I’m trying to win a popularity contest? If I were trying to suck up to people, I wouldn’t be working for Jesus, would I? Friends, I want you to know that the story of Jesus I tell doesn’t come from other people. I didn’t get it from some storyteller who taught it to me. I got it in a vision, straight from Jesus himself.

I admit that when someone tells me he or she has had a vision from God, my first impulse is to be a little bit skeptical – no very skeptical. The problem with visions from God is that they’re impossible to confirm or deny. There’s no proof one way or the other. All you have to go on is what the person who claims the vision says. Even if that person is someone you like and generally have a high regard for, you still might wonder if their “vision” is a sign that they’re coming unhinged. Should you be concerned for them?

Still, you can’t disprove it either. Nor should you try. I’d suggest that the basis for buying someone’s claim about a vision from God (or any kind of vision, for that matter) is by watching to see if it makes any real difference in the life of the person who had it. Do they change their course of action. Do they take action change their life’s trajectory? Do they change their priorities? Do they focus in a way they hadn’t before?

In other words, even though you can’t duplicate their experience, or experience it vicariously through them, or see exactly what they saw, do they live as if what they saw was really real? If they do, then even if the way they describe it seems far-fetched, there’s probably something to it. Otherwise, take it with a grain of salt.

Paul may not have been perfect. He may not have been always able to implement things in an ideal way. He may have been abrasive. He may even have had some of the details wrong. And he was a terrible theologian. But what he says he saw changed his life. There was something to it, and his passion for it changed the world – maybe not precisely the way Jesus had in mind, and probably beyond what even Paul himself had in mind – and he pursued it without regard for what anyone else thought of it.

For better or worse, and probably both better and worse, Paul was, if nothing else, a visionary. Like all visionaries (Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Adolf Hitler, John Kennedy, George Washington, Ronald Reagan, Albert Einstein – the list goes on) he’s not perfect. Visionary does not imply “good.” What makes them visionaries isn’t their goodness or perfection, it’s their vision that leaves the world a different place, for good or ill or both, behind them.)

Faith-Healing 101

Blind manMatthew 9:27-31

As Jesus was leaving, two blind guys followed along, calling, “Help us, Great Deliverer!” He went into his house, and they followed him in. Jesus said, “Do you really think I can do this?”

“Yes, sir” they said.

So he touched their eyes and said, “Let it be as you believe.” And they saw. Then Jesus said, “See to it that nobody gets wind of this.” But as soon as they left they started blathering it all over town.

In this instance, as well as in the previous healing story, being able to see and being made well has not so much to do with some magical power or ability of Jesus. It has to do with the capacity for faith, the system of beliefs, that pervade the lives of those needing sight and healing. All Jesus does is help us get in touch with that.

The woman with the flow of blood remained sick so long as she believed what everyone told her about her about being a pariah and unworthy of medical care.

With these blind guys, too, they see what they believe. Who knows what they were blind to, or what the content of their vision was that they saw in Jesus’ house that day! Perhaps they saw (gasp!) that Jesus wasn’t that kind of miracle worker. That Jesus was someone altogether different than the Deliverer they expected. Or could it be that their experience only confirmed what they thought they knew, making their misrepresentation about what kind of deliverer Jesus was even more far-fetched than before? What story – that Jesus didn’t want told – did they blather about town when they left?

We have no answers, of course. But the story leaves us with (at least) three questions worth pondering for ourselves:

  1. What do we say about Jesus, not because we know but because we’ve always been told it about him?
  2. What are we (intentionally) being blind to?
  3. Do we allow our experiences to enlighten us, to change our minds and paradigms, or do we shoehorn our experience into the contours of the stories and worldviews we’ve always told ourselves?

Happy soul searching (I mean faith healing)!