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Book Review – The Vision and the Vow

July 15, 2013
Pete Greig's 288-page book was published in 2005

Pete Greig’s 288-page book was published in 2005

This is an important book because we have a serious problem to solve. Why are most Christian communities so superficial and so prone to breaking apart? Pete Greig wants to persuade his readers to share his big vision—let’s form communities that will last a long time and let’s make a vow to stick with these communities when it gets hard to do so. “There is no place in the Christian community,” writes Greig, “for the serial monogamy mentality where each new friendship comes with a shelf-life. When a relationship gets awkward, or boring, we do not simply move on to another connection. Instead, we dare to go on a life-long journey together, through conflict and disappointment as well as seasons of mutual fascination and fun.

Why it is difficult to persevere in Christian community should be pretty obvious when each person examines himself. How do other people put up with me? Greig says that it is so difficult to put up with one another that we need to judiciously make a vow to one another, a pledge to be true to one another. In so doing we “stir one another up to love and good deeds,” at the very times when we might otherwise have allowed embers to die. “Our friendship survives seasons of vulnerability.” Greig writes, “When people see our sin and somehow still choose our company and laugh at our jokes. We turn acquaintance into friendship and a few of these friendships into life-long covenant camaraderie.”[1]

To live long in relationship to one another, we make a pledge to one another. We make a solemn vow. This happened once before. Greig takes us back to the Moravian community. The Moravians became famous for sending whole families to be missionaries and for starting a prayer meeting that lasted for a hundred years. But behind the fame was a vow. Members of this order wore a ring inscribed with the motto, “None live for themselves”, but solemnly pledged: To be true to Christ, To be kind to people, To take the Gospel to the nations.[2] Members who were ready to take the vow would meet in Count von Zinzendorf’s home:

After prayer and a little discussion of each aspect of the covenant, they stood, one at a time, and with little emotion, each one made their solemn vow to God. Next they knelt down as Zinzendorf placed the ring on their fingers, laid his hand on their heads, and prayed. The ceremony had taken minutes, but it was to last a lifetime. When all was done, they ate a hearty feast—breaking bread and drinking wine—to celebrate the covenant of their friendships: The Honourable Order of the Mustard Seed had been planted in good soil.[3]

I am all in with Greig’s answer to our modern-day problem. Today, Greig writes, we are predisposed to cynicism because we don’t have an all-consuming cause the way previous generations did. Instead we have trends. We have products and technologies. We have our immediate circle of friends. But we don’t have A Cause—not one that demands our lives and calls us to sacrifice ourselves for something bigger than our own little selves. We were never called up to fight for freedom. No ration books. No man on the moon. No Martin Luther King, Jr. Just disposable heroes sponsoring products. Things that come and go.

As a result of this comfortable, cause-lite existence of ours, we are living like ghosts in time, happy to consume and be consumed without a thoughtful vision or an all-consuming passion. The glass elevator of human history may well prove embarrassing for a generation like ours, naked of ideals and unsure about its own destiny and direction.[4]

But when a vision comes to us not as a human aspiration but as a divine revelation—then the whole equation changes. God’s commission always comes with his provision; He promises to supply our needs, to sustain us, to renew our strength, to redeem our mistakes, to use our weaknesses, and—best of all—to journey with us. He uses the weak and the foolish to confound the wise, ordinary people to do extraordinary things for His glory.[5]

The Christian author, Rick Joyner, who is himself a member of an ancient Order called the Knights of Malta, says this: “Just as Count Zinzendorf, the true father of modern missions, created the Order of the Mustard Seed, which touched and inspired men like John Wesley to release a spiritual fire in the earth that created the first Great Awakening in America and Europe, I think that the church is in desperate need of groups who will join together to press beyond the state of modern Christianity as it is generally found in most of the world. Call these ‘elitist’ groups if you want, but we need them to call all Christians to higher standards of faith and life”.[6]


[1] Pete Greig, The Vision and the Vow (Relevant Books, 2005), page 129

[2] Ibid. 131

[3] Ibid. 139

[4] Ibid. 10

[5] Ibid. 14

[6] Ibid. 160

One Comment leave one →
  1. SHARAT BABU permalink
    July 16, 2013 7:52 pm

    Thank you so much for this blessed message and is strengthening me. Evangelist Babu.

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