There is a very interesting passage in Isaiah 29. Here's how it reads:
For the Lord has poured out on you
The spirit of deep sleep,
And has closed your eyes, namely, the prophets;
And He has covered your heads, namely, the seers.
11The whole vision has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one who is literate, saying, “Read this, please.”
And he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.”
12Then the book is delivered to one who is illiterate, saying, “Read this, please.”
And he says, “I am not literate.”
13Therefore the Lord said:
“Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths
And honor Me with their lips,
But have removed their hearts far from Me,
And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men. (Isaiah 29: 10-13).
God says some very interesting things about vision. When God's vision for you and our church is not clear, it is like the words of a book that is sealed given to one who is literate but cannot read it because it is sealed. And there's no point in going to the one who is illiterate because they can't read the thing to begin with.
And the result is no vision, no passion, no purpose, no direction. It's life at its worst. It's living hell.
And then God tells us why we get this way. The problem is that the people draw near to God only with their mouths and lips, but their hearts remain far from God.
Several interesting things to note. The lack of vision and direction is not due to the lack of gathering or praising. These people are still gathering at their appointed times for worship. They give lip service to God, but their heart is not in it. What is lacking when the heart is absent is commitment and obedience. And the result is that you have a dead church with dead and dying Christ-followers.
But the thing that interests me the most is the last phrase, "their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men."
You see, the problem when the heart is not engaged, is that God's commands and teachings are viewed as teachings of men. God's commands and teachings become one of interpretation and someone's opinion. And so, if you agree, you obey. If you don't, you can find someone else's opinion. But it's all men's opinion. So, if you're wrong, you've only offended people.
But you see, these are not the opinions and teachings of men. These are God's commands. And when the people are led to believe that these are the interpretations and teachings of men, that is a lie straight out of hell. Because the one who is offended and wronged when we are disobedient is Yahweh - God the only living God. And the One we must answer to is that God.
When vision and purpose for an individual and a church gets fuzzy, it's because we get fuzzy on the teachings of God. These are God's words. These are God's commands.