First Mennonite Church
May 23, 2021
Recovering Our Sense of Call
John 3:16; 17:25-26
Once, a gentleman walked into a pastor’s office and asked if the preacher could speak with him. And without much introduction, the man began, “I am a very busy and successful person and I really don’t have much time for this, but I wonder if you can speak with me for five minutes.” “Of course,” said the pastor. “Well,” continued the man, “my wife has been attending this church and now at dinner time she’s talking about Jesus, and I don’t know anything about Jesus, so I thought I’d come by for a few bullet points about Jesus.”
“Wow, I am not sure I can help you. For one thing, I’m not good with bullet points, and for another, even if I could give you some good bullet points about Jesus, I’m afraid it could have a way of getting into your life that would cause you to rethink your power and your success and everything you have acquired, even you marriage and your family. Jesus will affect everything!”
“Oh, no! I don’t want to do that.” The man replied. “I only want some bullet points about Jesus. That’s all.”
Following Jesus changes everything in our lives. However, after sometime or over the years after coming to faith in Jesus, Christians run the risk of plateauing or stagnating in their Christian lives. The initial passion they had for Christ, their hunger to learn and become more like Jesus, the joy and intimacy they discovered through prayer, and the excitement of being in fellowship, all begin to die out. In the worse of cases, as some pastors shared in a meeting this week, even gathering for worship becomes a burden for some.
Therefore, the question, how can we recover the sense of our call? Or in the words of the Lord to John of Patmos, what can we do to recover our “first love” for Christ?
For each of us, coming to faith in Christ, was the greatest decision we ever made, besides deciding whom to marry, for those of us who are married. Coming to faith in Jesus Christ changed the order of our priorities in life. It changed the focus of our lives, thus, it affected the type of career or vocation we could choose, it defined the profile of a partner we could marry, it determined the manner in which we should use our time and resources, but above all it made pleasing God the all-consuming purpose of our lives.
For some, coming to Christ happened on a particular date, but for others it was something that gradually happened as they grew in their awareness of God’s presence and love within the Christian home in which they were raised. That is what happened to me. My mother did not only tell me about the importance of Christ in my live, but she demonstrated it. Even when she was rejected by her mother and sisters, she continued to visit them and love them. My father’s public witness that he was a changed man after he committed his life to the Lord was demonstrated by going to Sunday school in plain day light for our neighbors to know. He did not hide his faith.
Regardless of how we came to faith in the Lord, there was a moment in our lives when we made the conscious and willing decision to lay down our lives to feet of Jesus and invited him to be our Lord and Savior.
Coming to faith in Christ, not only gave us clearer perspective about our priorities in life, but also gave us a clear vision about ourselves: God loves us. We matter to God and so very much that he gave us his only and beloved Son. Thus, when we responded to God’s call, we also came to know and experience God’s obstinate and enduring love, which we have been rejecting or failing to receive. We are God’s beloved children. Our coming to faith was also coming into the arms of our Creator. Through God’s word we learn that it is only through knowing God that we truly begin to know ourselves. It is only by coming to faith in Christ that we are able to see how greatly loved we are by God. And because we are loved by God we now understand that we exist for the joy and satisfaction of our Creator God. That means, God is glorified when we live worthy of our call, as Paul says (Eph. 4:1).
But the question is, how do we recover our first love for God? How do we, once again, find delight and wholeness in the presence and love of God?
Henry Scougal wrote this to one of his friends:
Love is that powerful and prevalent passion, by which all the faculties
and inclinations of the soul are determined, and on which both its
perfection and happiness depend. The worth and excellency of a
soul is to be measured by the object of its love.
Jesus puts it this way: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21).
The question we must ask ourselves is, what gives us delight? For the lover, it is in the one they love. What give us pleasure? For the hater, it’s the object of their hate, and addict their preferred substance. What is our greatest treasure in life? Let us remember that anything that stands between us and God, anything that diverts our attention away from Jesus is an idol.
One of the well-known verses of the Bible for us Christians is John three, sixteen. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that anyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. God’s treasure was and is the world. His heart beats for you and me and for every one of the 7 billion plus souls that inhabit the world today. Our foremost identity before God is that you and I are God’s beloved ones. God loves you! God loves me. And God love every soul. We are God’s treasured and beloved possession. Thus, we have a vocation, a calling, to live in this world as God’s beloved each and every moment of our entire lives. We have this calling to live as God’s beloved community in the company of brothers and sisters.
As Jesus was coming out of the Jordan at his baptism, a voice in heaven said, “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). Those whom God is calling his beloved have names, like: Jean, Karen, Kenny, and each of our names. God rejoices in declaring that he is well pleased in us.
When we are baptized our identity as God’s beloved is confirmed within the community of those he has called—the church. In the sharing of the bread and wine at the Lord’s Table, we affirm our identity as Jesus’ beloved family.
We are called to live as God’s beloved 24/7, 365 days of the year and everywhere. That means that the life as God’s beloved is a full time commitment. However, often times after the honeymoon period of our journey with Christ, the danger and temptation is to live this life as we do with the lights in our homes. We turn them on when we want and turn them off when we don’t want the light. We follow Jesus when it is easy or convenient and deny him when following becomes inconvenient or difficult. It is for that reason that Paul makes a vehement call in Romans 12, verses one and two: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
The living sacrifice we are called to offer does fluctuate between being alive and dead. It is a living, consistent, and all-encompassing sacrifice. It is a holy life in which God is continuously pleased in us.
The Old Testament scripture reading this morning of Psalm 139 expresses the wonderment of how God created us. The gestation period as we developed is one of God’s greatest miracles –life, the human life.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
This passage tells us how greatly loved we are by God. We are God’s beloved. Our coming to faith was the turning point in our lives in which we came to back to our Lover. We were reunited once again to the one we got lost from.
My loving brothers and sister, God continuous to call us back to him. We can only recover our sense of call and our first love when we live as God beloved children. God is pleased when in the ordinary activities of our day we act, we talk, we relate with others, we carry out our businesses reflecting our belovedness. If through our humanity we reflect God wondrous work of creation, our rebirth in Christ reflects being God’s new creation and God’s new humanity.
Give thanks to God every day for his love for you. Be specific about the ways you see God’s love in your life. Offer your love to him. Make everything you do and what you say an expression of your love to God.
Let us go out and live our true identity. God loves us. God loves you. And God is sending each of us to live reflecting who we are, God’s beloved children. Amen!
 www.grace-ebooks.com/library/Henry Scougal. The Life of God in the Soul of a Man.