I have a new recurring dream. In this dream I have a piece of land with an old barn. The family live in part of the barn that has been converted into a home, but much of the barn remains dangerously derelict. There are places where the sky can be seen through the roof, and places where the roof timbers desperately need to be replaced. Despite the dangerous structure I continue to use this part of the barn for storage, even climbing into the loft area. Thankfully one can throw caution to the wind in a dream. The problem is that real life is full of danger and challenges where caution cannot be thrown to the wind.
The barn in my dream needs a huge amount of work. This is work I assume that I cannot afford, hence the state of the place. The dream got me thinking about church, especially the early church – the one that didn’t have a building and is so very different to the average church of 2015. If I compare the church of today to the barn of my dream then it is only partially habitable. There are holes in the roof and the structure in places is unstable. Finance may or may not be available to make the building watertight and safe. But if finance were available, would watertight and safe be the sort of improvement the Landlord wants? Perhaps the Landlord would prefer that the tenants were not huddled around inside the building, but outside in the big wide world where the real people live?
I believe it is all about vision: God’s vision, not ours. And if we forget to ask Him what His vision is, or spend so much time talking in His presence that we are unable to listen then we end up reducing Him to little more than a landlord; someone who collects the rent and nothing more.
The crowd was listening to everything Jesus said. And because he was nearing Jerusalem, he told them a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away. He said, “A nobleman was called away to a distant empire to be crowned king and then return. Before he left, he called together ten of his servants and divided among them ten pounds of silver, saying, ‘Invest this for me while I am gone. ’ But his people hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We do not want him to be our king. ’
“After he was crowned king, he returned and called in the servants to whom he had given the money. He wanted to find out what their profits were. The first servant reported, ‘Master, I invested your money and made ten times the original amount!’
“‘Well done!’ the king exclaimed. ‘You are a good servant. You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be governor of ten cities as your reward.’
“The next servant reported, ‘Master, I invested your money and made five times the original amount.’
“‘Well done!’ the king said. ‘You will be governor over five cities.’
“But the third servant brought back only the original amount of money and said, ‘Master, I hid your money and kept it safe. I was afraid because you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn’t yours and harvesting crops you didn’t plant.’
“‘You wicked servant!’ the king roared. ‘Your own words condemn you. If you knew that I’m a hard man who takes what isn’t mine and harvests crops I didn’t plant, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’
“Then, turning to the others standing nearby, the king ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one who has ten pounds.’
“‘But, master,’ they said, ‘he already has ten pounds!’
“‘Yes,’ the king replied, ‘and to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. And as for these enemies of mine who didn’t want me to be their king – bring them in and execute them right here in front of me.” (Luke 19:11-27 NLT)