A Vision Adjustment

. 10 min read

Thanks to Dave for sharing the message while I was away at my parents!

Scripture Lesson – 2nd Samuel
A gray-haired woman in a white
jacket carefully positioned the optometer in front of my eyes.  “Concentrate on the bottom line”
she said. “Can you read it?”
“T..F..P..V..O.. or is that a
“Which is clearer?” She
asked.  The lenses snapped into place and
the image changed slightly.
“That’s fine,” she said.
“We’ll make the glasses.”
Eye exams… we have all had
them.  Adjustments to vision…minor
corrections to make things clearer. Bifocals when our arms get too short.  Trifocals when the music on the piano or the computer
screen isn’t quite in focus with either correction.
King David got a vision correction
in our lesson today. With the help of Nathan the prophet, he got a clearer
picture of himself and God.
As we reckon time it was about
1000 years before the birth of Christ. 
Israel was a rag-tag tribe of nomadic shepherds and farmers.  They were in the “Promise Land”, but
besieged by enemies on all sides. 
King Saul had build an army to
protect the rapidly growing population, but had limited success against his
aggressive neighbors.
David was an uneducated keeper of
the flock.  Today with his background he
might be an attendant at a car wash. 
Perhaps he would be the guy who washes the wheels before the car goes
through the machine.  He had no formal
education, no military background, no chance at a career.
On those long, boring afternoons
in the hot sun of Palestine he would amuse himself by composing songs, and
throwing rocks at mice.  He probably had
some encounters with wild animals who saw his sheep as easy prey.  He got to be quite good at  throwing rocks, but most parents would see
little future for someone who was really good at throwing rocks.
I can still hear my grandmother’s
voice saying, “You kids put those rocks down before you put somebody’s eye
We all know the story of David
killing Goliath with his sling shot and a rock. 
Since my name is David I was always fascinated by the story of this boy
It was not one of my Grandmother’s

We all have these snap-shot images
of David.  The shepherd boy. . . the rock
throwing hero. . .  the great King.  But in between these snap-shots there is a
fascinating life of growing up, and growing into greatness, and a growing
revelation of God.

Everyone remembers the story of
the shepherd boy who killed Goliath with one accurate rock.  But David became a major military strategist,
one of the most effective generals in Israel’s history.  Under his direction the army organized by
King Saul became a major military power. 
It consolidated the territory of Israel.
The great victories of David’s
armies are chronicled in the next chapter in Samuel.  He defeated the Phi-lis-tines,                      the Ar-a-me-ans, the
Mo-a-bites, and the E-do-mites.  His
control extended over the area which today includes the state of Israel as well
as parts of modern-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq.
David subdued the Jebusites and
took their fortified city of Jebus.  From
a military standpoint, Jebus was an excellent location.  High on a bluff overlooking the Hin-nom and
Kidron Valleys with a good supply of water, this city could hold out against
the most determined siege.
David renamed the place Jerusalem,
and made it his capital city.  He built a
fine palace for himself and settled down to administer his sprawling kingdom.
Our lesson today finds David
thinking about building a permanent home for his God.
The symbol of the Hebrew religion,
the Arc of the Covenant, was kept in a tent. 
It was moved about from battlefield to battlefield to support the
solders in their conquests.
David had seen other temples in
his travels.  The other nations he had
conquered always had elaborate shrines to their deities.  Now that he had time, he wanted to build the
biggest and best shrine for the God of Israel. 
It would be a jewel in Jerusalem. 
Everyone who saw it would know that God was great, and that he looked with
favor on the children of Israel.
David discussed his plans with
Nathan, a religious advisor. Nathan told David that God was with him in his
plans for a new temple, but that night, Nathan had a dream.  The word of the Lord came to Nathan and he
was ask to help David correct his vision.
David had a vision of God, and of
his nation, but as is often the case, his vision was too small.  You might say he was nearsighted.  He could see things up close, but things got
fuzzy in the distance.
God made it quite clear he did not
need a temple.  According to Nathan God
was a bit sarcastic.  “Did I ever
say, Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”  In other words, “Did I ask for
this?”  David wanted to put God in a
box.  Oh, it was to be a big box . . . it
was to be an elaborate box, but a box nevertheless.  Perhaps God wanted David to understand that
the great temples he had seen in the cities of his enemies were monument to
false gods.  Perhaps God wanted David to
better understand the nature of the true God.
God goes on to adjust David’s
vision of the future of Israel. God turns the tables on David, and says,
“I don’t want you to build a house for me. I will build a house for
you.”  God wasn’t talking about a
physical building. He was talking about the family that David would father, and
the nation he would found.
We in the modern church often
suffer from David’s myopia. How  many of
us have a vision of a “house of cedar” for our Lord?  We get obsessed with church buildings, with
forms of worship, with music, with liturgy. 
We want to expend every resource to keep the building looking good, to find
the perfect liturgy, to get the music right. 
We want people to know that we think our God is great.
Who’s vision is it anyway?
Is our vision of the church, and
our vision of our God too small?.  We
often see the church as a place to retreat. A nice place for God to be with us
away from all the ruckus outside, and all those sinners.  We think God is in his house and we have the
doors locked so he can’t get out and interfere with our lives outside the
church.  God is calling us to leave the
church building and to go out and preach the gospel to the poor and oppressed.
To seek justice . . . to serve the cause of peace.
Mary McLeod Bethune was born in
1875 in South Carolina.  She was the
fifteenth child of former slave parents. 
She remembered being in a home of a white family as a child. She had
picked up a book, but was told “Put that book down, you can’t read.”  She realized then that not being able to read
was one of the things that separated her and many others of her race from the
white majority and the life they led.
She learned the Board of Missions
for Freedmen had opened a school for black children and eagerly ran five miles
to attend class.  Later she was able to
work her way through the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.
She had a vision.  She wanted to go to Africa to teach young
black children how to read.  She applied
to the Mission Board of the Presbyterian Church to go to Africa.  The Board informed her that there were no
openings for a Negro missionary in Africa.
So Mary McLeod Bethune got a
vision adjustment.  If she couldn’t go to
Africa, perhaps she was meant to teach young Negro girls, girls who had shared
her background here in the United States.
This determined
woman-with-a-vision founded a school for Negro girls.  She began in a small building on a tiny lot
in Daytona, Florida.  Her first class had
five little girls. Because of her determination and work and the help of many
others Mary McLeod Bethune made a difference in the lives of many.  On the fiftieth anniversary of the founding
of her school the campus covered 36 acres and included 19 buildings. Thousands
of black women were given the tools to lead their communities.
Mary McLeod Bethune had a vision
adjustment.  God had other things in mind
for her.
We all need vision
adjustments.  Times change, we change,
the world changes.  Sometimes we fail to
catch a vision which is all around us.
The opportunities are
countless.  As Jesus said to His
disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.
Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
Recently I watched an episode of
the Judge Judy.  I assume that all of you
are familiar with the show in which Judge
Judith Sheindlin
presides over the arguments of the “common people”.  In the program I watched, a newly married couple
were suing a DJ.  The music was not
“right” at the wedding reception, and that, according to the bride, “ruined the
wedding.”  The bride announced that the
wedding was ruined because the DJ was rude and did not play the songs
that guests requested.
Their vision of a wedding and of a
marriage, for that matter, was very limited. 
Judge Judy advised the husband, who seemed to only be a somewhat
embarrassed bystander, “If this is all it took to ruin your wedding, you had
better fasten your seat belt because you are in for a bumpy ride.
We all are susceptible to vision
loss.  We allow our vision  to be shaped by the world around us.  We allow the values of the world to become
our values.  Sometimes we distort the
vision of the church so badly that it becomes the vision of evil.
I was recently reviewing a book by Adam Hamilton called “When
Christians Get It Wrong.”  He cited a
study done in 2007 by the Barna Group with hundreds of young adults who were
outside the Christian faith. They found that more young adults are turning away
from Christianity than in years past. Their research focused on understanding
the perceptions non-Christian young adults have of Christians. Among their
• 91% of those adults surveyed who were outside the Christian
faith felt Christians were “anti-homosexual.”
• 87% felt Christians were judgmental.
• 85% felt Christians were hypocritical.
• 75% felt Christians were too political.
• 70% thought Christians were insensitive.
We are one in the Spirit, we are
one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are
one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity may one
day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians
by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians
by our love
40% of young people ages 16-29 have opted out of the church!
20% consider themselves to be agnostic. The rest say they are
Just not interested in the church.
More and more young people are opting out of Christianity.
The Reason… Christians!
Indifferent,  Apathetic,  Judgmental, 
And they’ll know we are Christians
by our love, by our love

The disparity between the love Christians are meant to display and
what young adults often experience is most pronounced when Christians speak
with judgment or in disparaging ways toward others.
Many teens have turned away from the Christian faith because of the
actions of Christians they knew. But this phenomenon is not unique to young
adults. No doubt you can think of examples of Christians you have known who
were judgmental, hypocritical, and unloving.
Adam Hamilton says, “Some of the most insensitive, critical,
judgmental, and meanspirited people I’ve known were persons who claimed to be
committed Christians.”
Now please don’t misunderstand; there
are lots of wonderful and loving Christians out there and there have always
been dissatisfied church members willing to criticize the church. But, I am not
speaking about people who are dissatisfied with the church.  I am speaking about people who are fed up
with Christians.
And they’ll know we are Christians
by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love
We all need to have a vision
checkup regularly.  Our optometrist can
supply the eye exam, but we need a vision exam. 
You might say that David had an advantage because, after all, he had
Nathan to adjust his vision.  We don’t
have Nathan, but we do have the Spirit, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  If we are going to have a vision checkup we
have to seriously seek the vision . . . in prayer . . . in
. . . in worship,  and in
.  Together you and I need
to seek the vision for ourselves and our church.
All over this area churches are
struggling to recapture a vision.  Why
are there more people at Wal-Mart on a Sunday morning than in church?  People all around us are crying out for the
spirit.  Can we find the vision?    One thing is certain, we need to recapture
the spirit.  We need to find the
vision.  God is calling us to service and
love, but we have to work to hear and understand the call. 
God has big plans for us … but we
want to dally in the church kitchen discussing the cost of carpet. We get trapped
in the boiler room wondering if the furnace will last the winter. We aren’t
quite sure if we have packed enough, trained enough, planned enough….And it is
so comfortable right here where we are… 
But God has a vision for us.  If
only we will seek his vision.
I believe that God is asking his
children to seek a new vision for his church. 
Church leaders everywhere struggle to plan for the future.  Sometimes the task gets burdensome.  Some have said, “Why can’t we just get
things back the way they were.”
There is no going back.  The past is behind us.  The future stretches out majestically before
us.  If only we could see.
Chief Seattle, a native American
from the northwest is credited with an interesting nautical saying.  He said in effect, “No wind is favorable
if a sailor doesn’t know where he is going.”
Do you know where you are
going?  Do you know where God wants you
to go?
Have you had a vision checkup . .
. lately?
Click . . . click . . . the lenses
snapped into place.
“That’s fine,” she
said.  “We’ll make the