The Journey that changed the world

In this week’s newsletter from the Center for Healthy Churches, Bill Wilson wrote a column entitled: “Vision and Venture at Advent.” He began with: “It was Vaclav Havel who described the dilemma every leader has with the issue of vision – ‘Vision is not enough; it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps; we must step up the stairs.’”

The story of Jesus offers compelling evidence that the two – vision and venture – should be inseparable. Joseph, who sometimes appears as a bit player in the drama, received a vision from God. Amidst his concerns about what he should do with a suddenly-pregnant fiancée, he struggles with how to make the problem go away. Through a heavenly messenger, he is given a vision of his future: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary. For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:18-25).

Mary, understandably confused and frightened, receives her own vision and submits to Gabriel’s message: “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever He wants. May everything you have said come true” (Luke 1:38).

Their journey to Bethlehem is set in the framework of an imperial decree. Caesar Augustus has ordered a census of his empire. The tax rolls need to be updated. People must return to their ancestral homes to obey the decree. While the males are targeted, it is interesting that both Joseph and Mary are descendants of David, Israel’s greatest king. The lineage is an important verification of messianic prophecy.

According to Havel’s word picture, Joseph and Mary did indeed stare up the steps and then stepped up the stairs. They were willing to take the journey, not just to Bethlehem, but also to obedience.

Jesus embodied vision and venture in His life and ministry. He was laser-focused on accomplishing His mission. He refused to allow anything or anyone to deter Him. He lived the life His Father sent Him to live.

Can that be said of us? Are we living the life we were created to live? Is our heart set on those things that have eternal significance? What better time than Christmas to renew our commitment to both vision and venture.

Merry Christmas, Wieuca. Let’s celebrate together and let’s penetrate the world with our witness. There are stairs that need steppin’.

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About Mark Wilbanks

Dr. Wilbanks became Wieuca’s fifth senior pastor in February of 2012. Mark’s father, Oliver Wilbanks, served as Associate Pastor here from 1966 to 1982. Wieuca had a tremendous influence in shaping Mark’s call to ministry during his teenage and young adult years. A graduate of both Southern and New Orleans Baptist Theological seminaries, Mark has served churches in Kentucky, Florida, and Georgia. He pastored Southside Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida for 17 years and Bradfordville First Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida for ten years. He and his wife, Kim, were married in 1979 and have two sons, Andy and Jordan. Andy is married to Lindsay and they have a son, Cade, a daughter, Ruthie, and welcomed their third child, Samuel, in October.

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