Here is a section of a sermon entitled Deeper Vision that I preached at Skyline on February 4, 2007. Throughout the year several friends have referred to it as that “I Have A Dream” sermon. Now several months later and after much additional discussion by the church leadership about our direction and vision for the future, I still believe this is an accurate picture of what by the blessing of God can be the future of Skyline. The scriptures that are included were those on the screens behind me as I preached this section of the sermon.
Today I want us together to imagine what Skyline can be – I want us together to have a vision of where we are going.
Imagine with us shared worship gatherings where all present are invited to offer praise to God, joining hearts before the throne of the almighty God. (Psalm 122:1)
Imagine with us participating in a blend of worship styles and diversity of worship expressions in an atmosphere of freedom. Gatherings where it’s about God rather than us. Gatherings where together we can express our greatest joys and our deepest sorrows. Gatherings where we are drawn closer together rather than divided by our diverse personalities and preferences. Some of us are extroverts, demonstrative with our feelings. Others are introverts, introspective with our feelings. All of us can be together and let our love for one another override our differences in personality and preferences in gray areas. (Psalm 100:1-2)
Imagine with us being lost in the wonder of God’s grace to the point where we accept each other as God has accepted us even when we disagree in matters of opinion. (Romans 14:1)
Imagine with us a church where it’s not about me – it’s about God! Imagine a church where the members are seeking to lose their lives in the cross of Jesus. (Psalm 115:1)
Imagine with us worship overflowing the walls of the church building and turning our everyday lives into a temple of praise as we die to ourselves and live to imitate Jesus. Imagine learning to think, walk, and talk like Jesus in whatever situation we encounter. In the good times, we are like Jesus. In the bad times, we are like Jesus. All the time, we are like Jesus. When people treat us like royalty, we are like Jesus. When people mistreat us, we are like Jesus. No matter how people treat us, we are like Jesus. Imagine being mistaken for Jesus. (Romans 12:1)
Imagine with us lives being transformed in a way explained only by the activity of the Holy Spirit of God. Imagine hearts filled with love by the presence of God’s Spirit. Imagine minds renewed with wisdom and discernment by the indwelling Spirit. Imagine rather than trivializing the Holy Spirit, treasuring the Holy Spirit by putting the “Holy” back in Holy Spirit. Imagine being shaped by the holy power of God’s Spirit into a people of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Imagine with us a community driven by love for one another. A community that recognizes that claims of loving God are hollow if we do not love people. (1 John 4:20-21)
Imagine with us a people ready and willing to carry each other’s burdens and meet each other’s needs. Imagine being one with God and others. Imagine a oneness with one another that can only be understood by the oneness between Father, Son, and Spirit. (Galatians 6:1-3)
Can you imagine that kind of church family?
Imagine with us engaging times of prayer in which we hear God speak out of the silence. Imagine when we are in pain, in a time of wilderness, being able to hear God’s reminder of His joy and peace. (Psalm 42:4)
Imagine with us a family devoted to praying for one another at all times, particularly in times of great need. Imagine a family that wrestles in prayer for you. Where your ministers and elders and fellow members are praying for you daily that you may be mature and have full assurance of your faith. Imagine being in conversation with the Almighty. (Colossians 4:12)
Imagine with us people coming to Christ because of the way God reveals himself through us as we live and speak in the world. Imagine people seeing us and knowing we are disciples of Jesus, children of God because we love each other enough to be united. (John 13:35)
Imagine with us a body which always keeps its eyes open for opportunities to spread the love of Christ. Imagine being God’s messengers of hope and grace to our hurting world. (1 Corinthians 12:27)
Imagine with us recognizing baptism as an historic confession of faith in Christ and an initiation into the community of faith. But more, imagine a church where baptism is about receiving the greatest gift of God’s grace — forgiveness. Imagine a church where baptism is about grace and about Jesus. Imagine being intimately united with fellow believers and with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection. Imagine being born again. (Galatians 3:26-27)
Imagine with us hearts emblazoned with the words of Scripture. Imagine people whose words are shaped by and drawn from the very Word of God. Imagine preaching and teaching that flows from the living Word. Imagine a church where the preaching is a time of worship – where God is revealed and we are called to bow before Him with our very lives. Imagine being taught by God. (1 Peter 4:11)
Imagine with us a congregation actively partnering with God in his work in Jackson as we call people into the community of faith, reaching out with God’s love to the lonely, the forgotten, and the marginalized of our community. Imagine being a church that will do whatever it takes to reach the least, the last, and the lost even if that means doing things that challenge traditions and leave some people scratching their heads and saying, “What are they doing now?”
Imagine with us being a church where the most important members are the ones who aren’t here yet. Imagine reaching out beyond Jackson into the surrounding communities, and beyond to Panama, Mexico, Africa, Australia, China and into all the world. Imagine being Christ’s hands and feet in the world around us. (Matthew 28:19-20)
Imagine with us a church family that is the body of Christ. Imagine a church where everybody is clear that we exist to love God and love people to the praise of God’s glorious grace. Imagine a church where each part is a member, each member has a function, and everyone is committed to carrying out their part in the functioning of the body.
Imagine with us a church like all this – that is what we want to be!