When I was growing up, my family wasnít always up on the latest and greatest things to come along.† So, when we finally got the call waiting feature on our telephone, it was like a new era had dawned in the Matthewsí household.† I remember those times before we got call waiting when I would have to sit by the phone all day waiting and waiting for the phone to ring, afraid that if I left the house I would miss it, or when I would have to stand guard over the phone keeping others of off it, while I waited for the important call.† Of course, it never failed that the phone would ring and it would be for someone else in my family, which meant that now I had to stand there and bug the person to death to get off the phone quickly before the person calling me got a busy signal.
††††††††† Now that call waiting is much more common place in our homes today, along with answering machines, voice mail, cell phones, call forwarding, caller id, and even internet call waiting, the threat of missing an important phone call has become almost non-existent.† Now, we no longer have to worry about standing guard over the phone or making funny faces at the person using the phone to get them off quickly, we simply have to remind them to click over when the phone beeps, although try telling that to your younger brother and sister when they know you are expecting a call.† With call waiting, someone else can answer the call now, and we donít have to worry about our own call.† However, God doesnít use the phone to call us, but God does call.†††
††††††††† It shouldnít be a surprise to you to hear me talking about Godís call, yet again.† Sometimes I think I am constantly talking about it, maybe because I do, but itís only because Godís call has been so instrumental in my life that I hope it will be instrumental in yours as well.† For if Godís call has the power to change everything I am, everything I do, and everything I thought I was going to do, then I am convinced that it has the power to do the same thing for you.†
††††††††† I talk about, preach about, and teach about Godís call because it is so important for who we are as Godís people, as Believers, as Disciples of Jesus Christ, because the Bible is full of call stories and what it means to be called.† In fact the Bible is one big call story, the story of Godís calling a people to holiness and righteousness.† Listen to these examples from the Bible of what it means to be called.†
Matthew tells us that we are called from labor to rest.
1 John says we are called from death to life.
Galatians says we are called from bondage to liberty.
1 Peter tells us that we are called out of darkness into light.
1 Corinthians says we are called from bondage to peace.
John says we are called to be children of God.
Matthew says we are called to be servants of God.
Colossians says we are called to be Godís saints.
1 Thessalonians: called to be Godís witnesses.
2 Corinthians: called to be workers together with God.
Philippians: called to a high calling.
2 Timothy: called to a holy calling.
Hebrews: called to a heavenly calling.
††††††††† What glorious good news it is that we are called by God, that even in Godís infinite sovereign will and divine wisdom, even in Godís holy and righteous nature, God has loved us and cared for us so much that we have been called into Godís glorious kingdom and into Godís new way of life.† This should be the message we shout from the rooftops for all the people to hear.† This should be the message we tell to our children and our grand children.† This should be the constant message we remember and embody everyday of our lives as the community of faith, as Godís people.† But there is something else about being called that is equally as important as being called as Godís people, and that is being called as individuals.†
††††††††† In seminary, it was drilled into our heads over and over again that we are a community of people, a group, the body of Christ.† Our corporate identity as members of Christís body is essential to our understanding of what it means to be Christians and the Church.† There is no doubt that we must remember that Christianity is first and foremost communal and not individualistic.† To reduce the gospel of Godís plan and message of salvation in Jesus Christ, to just about me and my own salvation is just that, a reduction.
But, in our attempts to do away with everything individualistic, we have forgotten about the individual, that each individual is as important to the whole community as is the next individual, and that without individuals being called and individuals answer that call, there would be no community to participate with God in Godís mission in the world.
Soren Kierkegaard tells a parable of a community of ducks waddling off to duck church to hear the duck preacher.† The duck preacher spoke eloquently of how God had given the ducks wings with which to fly.† With these wings there was nowhere the ducks could not go, there was no God-given task the ducks could not accomplish.† With those wings they could soar into the presence of God himself.† Quacks of ďAmenĒ sounded throughout the duck congregation.† At the conclusion of the service, the ducks left, commenting on what a wonderful message they had heard Ė and then waddled back home.
††††††††† Too often, worshippers waddle away from worship just as they waddled in Ė unchallenged and unchanged.† Perhaps itís because they too are creatures of habit.† Week after week, they sit in the same place, following an order of service that they know by heart, listening to a sermon, which they assume is intended for someone else, all the while saying to themselves, ďSomeone else can answer Godís call now.Ē
††††††††† Call waiting technology on our phones may have freed us from having to sit diligently by the phone waiting for our important calls, but that freedom has also made it easier to get distracted from our diligence in waiting for the call, because someone else can answer Godís call now.† In the same way, our freedom in Christ and the promise of our salvation has made it easier for us to get distracted from our diligent and faithful practice of call waiting.† Instead of being intentional about listening for Godís call, we leave it to others to answer the call for us.†
††††††††† Maybe we need to turn off the automatic call waiting feature on our faith, and return again to the basics of manual call waiting by being intentional about our listening, by being diligent in our waiting, and by being responsive in our answering.† God doesnít use the phone to call us, but God does call.† God calls at all times of the day and night.† God calls when we are at home and away from home, when we are idle and when we are busy.†
God calls each and every one of us individually in many different ways and to many different things, and God wants each of us to answer our call, not just someone else.† God calls because God wants to challenge and change each of us.† God calls because God wants each of us to participate in with Him in ministry and mission.† God calls because God wants each of us to work to produce fruit for the kingdom.† God calls because God has a specific work designed for each of us to do.† Let each of us, at all times and in all places, be ready to answer Godís call.† Let each of us always be call waiting for God to use us for His glory.† Amen.