On 25th May 1961, President John F. Kennedy delivered a speech before a joint session of Congress entitled, “Special Message to the Congress on Urgent National Needs,”. Facing growing tension with Russia, JFK insisted the United States should set as a goal the “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth” by the end of the decade. Kennedy urged the U.S. to work diligently to lead the achievements of space travel because “in many ways [it] may hold the key to our future on earth.”
As the 1960s wore on scientists struggled with the enormity and complexity of delivering on that promise. But someone suggested they imagine they had already achieved their goal, and were standing on the moon looking back at earth. Then ask ‘how did we do it?’ And work backward instead of forward to achieve their goal. On 21st July 1969 Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon.
Our aim is not the moon but heaven. How are we going to get there? One of the Bible passages that has driven me in my ministry for 35 years is Ephesians 4:11-16. But yesterday for the first time the Lord challenged me to imagine we had already attained that goal and change the tense from future to past.
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so… the body of Christ has been built up. We have all reached unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and we have become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ. Now we are no longer infants… instead, speaking the truth in love, we have in all things grown up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, has grown and built itself up in love, as each part did its work.” (Ephesians 4:11-16).
What difference does the tense make to the passage? Everything. You know, when we get to heaven it will be past tense. So what does being mature look like? Feel like? That simple change from future aspiration to past achievement changes everything. Instead of seeing our 2020 Vision and Five Year Plan as aspirational, let us meditate on what it will be like, God willing, to have achieved the goals God has for us. Then lets look back from the vantage point of heaven with a renewed determination to help one another become what we already are in Christ.
As we look back and give thanks for what the Lord has achieved among us last year, I can look forward to the exciting adventures God has in store for the year ahead and above all, look up to my Lord and Saviour who equips us with everything we need to do his will.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Our ultimate vision is, that “we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature.” (Ephesians 4:13)
In 2014, my prayer for you is that you will indeed become mature, serving one another willingly, joyfully and wholeheartedly, investing all the gifts and talents God has entrusted to you, to build up his church in and beyond Virginia Water, to his praise and glory.
Let us never forget, the Church is the only hope for the world. This Easter I invite you to renew your commitment to Jesus Christ and to his church family here and be part of this exciting adventure in the coming year. May the Lord bless you and those you love.