There is a sense in which we see only partially, writes Rev Sydney Maitland. Our vision may be limited by our experience and by our expectations. If we have known only what is routine, then it is difficult to imagine anything else. On the other hand, if we have known excellence, then this is what we may come to expect: in other words, vison and expectation tend to be of more of the same.
So what happens when we change the parameters: of what we believe may be possible, of the resources that may become available, of how we might change ourselves or indeed be changed? To some extent, our politicians do try to do this when they offer their promises at election time, while blaming events or their opponents for failure. Even these blandishments however tend to be in line with what is already expected of them or demanded by their supporters.
For us the vision is not about blaming our forebears or events or circumstances, but rather about what we may perceive as we pray and worship. Here we are looking into a portal into heaven and at the Throne of Grace. Here our vison is given the opportunity to gain is breadth, depth and height. Here monochrome may give way to colour, and the burdens and bitterness of the past may give way to hope and forgiveness. Above all love is transformed from our selfish expectations into something far more dynamic. Here self finds the back seat while the other, especially God, takes first place. Here it is about self-giving rather than self-fulfillment. It is about letting go rather than achieving, being emptied of self rather than being flattered in our self-images. Here love takes on a wholly new dimension of authority, and we are defined first of all by how we respond to what we have already received, and in the light of love already made manifest to us by Jesus.
Perhaps the thing that impedes us is not hate or indifference but fear: for Jesus had said that “perfect love casts out fear.” The point is that fear of the future, of the unknown, of the costs of discipleship or of reconciliation may indeed hold us back. Equally, when we look at these things in isolation from Jesus then they gain dimensions and proportions that they were never intended to have: and our minds then become enslaved to our imaginations. In this sense, we become our own jailers and it is our self-imprisonment that Jesus has to break first of all.
In this sense, an essential part of our vision is about being free: especially from ourselves.