Here is the big idea, the Vision Rhythm we focus on during Vision Season:
God has promised that Jesus will come back, take charge as King of the world, and create a permanently perfect world.
That is God's vision for the future, shared with us through the Bible. All the way through the biblical story, God has made promises through his prophets, and he has been keeping them. There is a 100% chance that he will keep this final promise about Jesus.
Here is the other half of the big idea of Vision Season:
Living under Christ's rule, we are "beings from the future."
Wild as it sounds, Jesus has taken part of the future and put it into us already by his Holy Spirit. We are not just waiting for his future; we are living the future already! In the future, he will reign over all territories, all political powers, and all ethnic groups. But he already reigns over us who honor him as our King, and he is already changing us the way he will change the whole world when he rules it all--not yet as completely but clearly headed in that direction.
Bottom line of the big idea:
We "see ourselves in Christ" as trailers for a movie about the coming world of peace and joy.
In SYNC with Jesus, we are never behind the times. We are ahead of the game! That's our focus for Vision Season.
When you SYNC (See Yourself iN Christ) as a trailer for God's movie about the future, you see the direct life-changing connection between your life and the destiny of the world. It's not like we are helpless, unworthy, stuck with all kinds of weaknesses now, but everything will magically be perfect later.
In Christ some of that future perfection is already arriving, and it's working. Those who are not in Christ can see it working on us, and some of them ask, "What's up with that? What's got into you?" The future has got into us! We are living the dream!
Our role as trailers for the movie about the big idea
Jesus Christ is the center of God's entire strategy to bring good to the world, and he is obviously the center of the vision of the future world of peace and joy. If we see ourselves in Christ, then this fantastic vision is part of the deal, and we will be in on it when he establishes it.
Meanwhile Jesus is running a "Kingdom Citizenship Drive." He wants everyone on the planet to to have a chance to sign up for citizenship in his kingdom, and in order to persuade them to sign up, he wants them to get a preview of what life is like in his kingdom. We are that preview, the trailer for the movie about life in his kingdom.
The catch to signing up for citizenship is that people can't sign up now and postpone the activation of their citizenship until later when Jesus arrives in person. They have to activate it now in order to be eligible later. That means they have to start honoring him as their king now and living under his authority now, because that is what citizens of his kingdom do.
Of course, not everybody wants to live like that. They don't all sign up on those terms, and we don't have to force them into it. We just have to be as persuasive a preview of heavenly life as God can make us. He is pretty good at that (big understatement!) and it is the main component of his current strategy of working for the world's good.
If we realize that is what he is doing, there are five words that will never come out of our mouths, "That's the way I am."
God's strategy is to transform "the way we are" by putting his Holy Spirit into us, bringing heaven to earth, rewiring us so we are more like Jesus inside. He turns "That's the way I am" into "That's the way I was." He hands the old you over to the new you, and new you gets to beat up the old you as much as you want.
When you SYNC (see yourself in Christ), you also see Christ inside you, and that gives you unshakeable hope of reaching your destiny in a new world of peace and joy. This is "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1.27)
The big idea vs the Big Lie
If we get the big idea of Vision Season, it protects us from the Big Lie--
"The future will be whatever we make it."
This lie generates all kinds of struggles at the personal level. We each have to build and defend our own kingdoms to promote our vision of our personal futures. The lie also leads to political and military conflicts within and between nations. Wars are catastrophic attempts to make a particular vision of the future come true. At both the personal and national levels, all of life depends on force: offensive or defensive.
In contrast, according to the big idea of Vision Season, we cannot bring the future about! The King will do that personally. It's not our assignment. We aren't even going to be in his army when he does it. That means we do not have to force anything, and we can relax about everything. King Jesus has got this. Sweet! (FAQ: Will we get lazy?)
If we lose sight of the big idea (and it's very easy to let a whole day go by without a single thought of Christ's return), what happens? We might just fall for the Big Lie and end up playing the "force" game. Gradually the game infects us. We live nervously. How could we not? Everything about the future depends on us, so we have to be vigilant all the time. Everything around us affects us more than it would if we were thinking of the Coming King.
Holidays and the big idea
Christ the King Sunday, November 24, 2019
This little-known holiday deserves a lot more attention. It is the final Sunday in the traditional liturgical year, the day to celebrate the final act in the history of the earth as we know it, when Christ comes to reign as King.
In the SYNC cycle, this is not the final day but the opening day of the final season. The SYNC cycle ends with the normal annual calendar on New Year's Eve, when we look ahead to Christ's return. "Christ the King Sunday" is a great day to get our minds oriented in that direction.
Thanksgiving Day (USA), November 28, 2019
The American Thanksgiving Day is the fall harvest festival, celebrated with family gatherings and a massive meal. In the SYNC cycle, this is a perfect celebration to focus our thoughts on the global family and the global feast that is coming.
People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Luke 13.29, New Living Translation
Christmas Day, December 25, 2019
The day to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the one born to be King. It's a great day. Really, the day this King is born is the day when evil is as good as dead. Evil cannot cope with this baby. It will try, through King Herod, the Roman governor Pilate, the Jewish leaders like Annas and Caiaphas, but it will fail every time.
Even when they kill him, they fail. He rises from the grave! And who or what evil can stop him now from coming back on any day he chooses?
The day after the first Christmas it was already too late to stop him. The only hope evil has now is to find a way to run time backward and undo his birth. But evil, as always, hasn't got a prayer. And we have a Christmas!
New Year's Eve, December 31, 2019
The last day of the Western calendar year is also the last day of the SYNC annual cycle. That is the day when we pray the verse at the end of the Bible, "Yes, come Lord Jesus." Or we may sing it this way, fitting it to the New Year's Eve tune, "Auld Lang Syne":
"Let all our false hopes be forgot
And never brought to mind.
The messianic age has dawned
And this is its sure sign—
Messiah reigns in us, my friends,
His Spirit lives in here.
So come, Lord Jesus, reign on earth,
And let this be the year!
Note on the Four Sundays of Advent
The four Sundays before Christmas are the four Sundays of Advent in the traditional liturgical year. Themes for the four weeks vary in different churches. For example, Hope–Peace–Joy–Love, or Hope-Faith-Joy-Peace.
The Sundays are not emphasized in the SYNC cycle or shown as holidays in the SYNC Bible reading list, but they could easily be included by those who wish. Simply add Jesus' Second Advent (Second Coming) to his First Advent. All the themes mentioned above fit perfectly.
FAQs about the "big idea"
1. Why would Jesus take this approach (making us part of a trailer for his upcoming movie) instead of just saying the word and ending all evil and suffering right now?
He takes this approach because he wants our lives as free citizens of his kingdom to give everyone else a preview of the peace and joy he will create everywhere when he comes to rule. Then they can join us willingly before his grace period runs out, so that they will be included in his glorious future.
2. Does this mean we are supposed to try to be as perfect as the future will be?
Of course not; we cannot be perfect examples of the coming perfect world. When people have seen the trailer for a movie, have they seen the movie? No, but they know what kind of a movie it will be. They've got a glimpse of part of it. That's what we give people--a glimpse of some great things to come. And we don't have to be perfect to do that. We just have to be on the right track, moving in the right direction as Christ's aura transforms us gradually.
3. Does this mean that this Jesus-centered vision will cause Christians to be pushy and divisive as they work to establish their vision?
This vision, if properly understood, does not require us to engineer or force anything. We embody the future, but we don't try to legislate it. Above all, we don't kill for it (though we may die for it). We do not kid ourselves into thinking we are going to create heaven on earth. We leave that for Jesus to do later. For the time being, we accept his promise to demonstrate through us some of heaven on earth so that others can see it, be drawn to it, and be blessed by it. We know that our role on earth is not pushy or divisive. We are pottery on exhibit, not potters who mold other people's lives. We are ambassadors not governors.
4. Won’t this view of Jesus bringing in utopia make Christians lazy, undisciplined, and soft? Won’t they say their weaknesses don’t matter much because Jesus will fix them all when he comes?
Just the opposite. The thought of Jesus bringing in the perfect future has a huge impact on us in least two specific areas--purity and toughness.
Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure. (1 John 3.2-3)
For instance, there is no impurity such as pornography in the kingdom Jesus will establish in the future. Can anyone seriously think that this means we had better indulge in as much pornography as we can right now because we won't have it later? Preposterous! The thought of the purity of Jesus' reign motivates us powerfully to be pure now. Impurity doesn't belong where Jesus is, and he is in us already.
As for toughness, the Bible tells us
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12.2).
This was the main emphasis of Grit Season, which could also be called the "Toughness Season." The joy set before Jesus was his vision of the future. That gave him the endurance necessary to carry his cross and to die for us. Talk about motivation!
Jesus' enemies thought they would eliminate his vision for the future by shaming and executing him. They should have realized that those who stand between Jesus and his vision have no future themselves.
We who embrace Jesus' vision do have a future. This future gives us some things to do in the present. We invite him to start the purification process in us, and we keep our eyes on Jesus, who didn't have a lazy bone in his body. It's hard to sit still when the fire of Jesus' vision lights us.
5. When will Christ return, and what else has to happen first?
We have only been given the last few pages of the story of the world, however it is enough to know how it turns out. We are not told how long it will take or what happens between the page we are on today and the end. It is not our job to do a lot of guess work, trying to figure all that out. Our job is to live our ordinary lives today in SYNC with the certainties we see on the final pages. We live like everything around us is temporary, and the peace Christ brings is permanent.