Call and Vision

Call "Here am I, send me" the words of Isaiah to God after God asked, "Whom shall I send." Words not to be taken lightly, words not to be uttered unless one is sincere, words of the faithful to the God of the universe when he calls.

Isaiah never set out to be a prophet, rather he was all set to live his life as a scribe in the royal palace of Jerusalem, but God had other ideas. God called Isaiah to be his prophet, and Isaiah's vision of God became unforgettable and compelling.

What's your response to God when he calls? Is it "Here am I, send me" or is it "Go away, send someone else?"

And you may already know, from your own experiences, that God has an interesting way of getting our attention sometimes; only many of us try to block out God's call, his tug on our heart. Have you ever sensed God calling you, or you just knew God was trying to tell you something, but you did all you could to ignore his instructions by thinking of something else, or by trying to change the subject in your mind. Or perhaps you tried to cut a deal with God, "Hey God if you let me by on this one I'll…" so on and so forth.

And sometimes we act like we did when we were children, you know those times when our parents called wanting to ask us to do something that we know we don't want to do, so to avoid hearing the call we put our hands over our ears and block out their voice by singing loudly, &*&*%^&$^(U*)^(*).

This act may work for the moment but it didn't work for long because our parents kept asking. Well guess what, God keeps asking as well. God is persistent with his children, sometimes to the point of being a real nag.

As Christians we've been called to live and speak the truth, which means following God wherever he leads us. This is not a position of high pay or prestige, but it is a life saving mission, a mission we're each called to undertake in different ways.

Also know that when God calls he has a tendency to call collect, he dials 1-800-c-a-l-l-G-o-d, hoping we'll answer and respond. And when God calls, he many times will call collect, meaning there will be a price to pay. So there's a good chance something will have to change in our life to fulfill the call.

For some it may mean moving to a far away place, for others it may mean a career change, and still for others it may mean simply doing more of what they've been doing. Just like we each have different phone numbers, we each have different callings.

But to receive God's call we have to be within calling distance, meaning we have to be involved in the life of the faith. We have to be aware of God's presence in our lives. Now this doesn't mean God can't or won't reach out and touch someone not active in a church, but often times to receive God's call we need to be aware of God's presence in our lives.

I wonder how many folks live on the fringe of the faith, so they're not available to receive God's call, they're tuned out, or they stay safely out of range. And some honestly like it this way, that way they have an excuse for not answering God, or so they think.

How many folks put up signal proof walls or install signal jammers so that God's call can't get through? How many folks just hang up when God calls, like God is some annoying telemarketer calling at dinnertime. Or still how many answer the call by saying, "Here I am, but stop short of saying, "Send me?"

When God calls he's calling those individuals: 1. Who have a passion for people. 2. Those who will be compassionate and faithful to the Word of God. 3. Those who will be kind and loving, not judgmental. 4. Those who will thank God for the miracles and blessings they receive 5. And those who will work boldly to love the hell out of people. Are you open to God's call? Are you ready to say, "Here am I, send me," or have you placed yourself on God's eternal do not call registry?

Vision But what good is a call if you don't know where you're going? This is where vision becomes a key element of our faith. The popular television show and movie series Star Trek had a vision, to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one had gone before. Maybe a science fiction television show, but because of this vision millions of people tuned into the television show and watched the movies to see what would happen next. They wanted to be part of the great adventure.

Well God has a vision for his children, which is articulated in our reading from Revelation this morning, " Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away…I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God…Now the dwelling of God is with his people, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God." (Rev. 21: 1-3, paraphrase)

The author of Revelation is telling us there will be a new earth after God's great judgment; a magnificent new creation of which all who follow Christ will be a part of.

Now we don't know what the new earth will look like or where it will be, but we know God and his followers will be united to live there forever, and the covenant between God and his people will be executed in the most celebrated manner. This is God's promise to us. What a fantastic vision of the future we're given. A vision of hope, a vision of life everlasting.

Now isn't knowing God's vision for the future encouraging, isn't this a vision you can rally behind and say, "Wow I see where we're headed and I want to be apart of this wonderful journey." As Christians we ought to paint this vision for those in our community, so they too can embrace this divine vision of the future, make it there own, and further their walk with the Lord.

So if this is God's vision for humanity, what is our vision as a local church and how does this vision move us towards God's glorious vision?

Many years ago there was a group of men laying bricks in one area of a town. A news reporter was sent there to see what was going on and to get some comments from those laying the bricks. The reporter approached the first man and asked, "What are you doing?" The person replied, in a nasty way, "what's it look like I'm doing, I'm laying bricks." The reporter moved on to the next man and asked, "What are you doing?" The person responded gruffly, "I'm building a brick wall." Then the reporter moved on down the work zone and asked a third man, "What are you doing?" The person replied in an enthusiastic way, "I'm building a cathedral so people over the years will have a place to receive Christ and worship God." So which person has the more exciting vision, understands the big picture, of where their work is leading? Which one do you think is more excited about what they're doing?

How would you describe what takes place here at Trinity to someone? What's your view of this church, and its ministry?

Is it simply a place we gather in once a week, maybe twice, to go through some planned order of worship, and read some ancient manuscripts, or is it a place where the meaning of life becomes clearer, and our awareness of God illuminates and changes our hearts, and our outlook on life becomes filled with hope?

As you can see, your view of what this church is determines how you will communicate the good news to friends and neighbors, and will influence your outlook on the future.

Who's more likely to be lifted up by joining us on Sunday, one who comes expecting to follow the bulletin, hear scripture, sing some songs, and listen to some guy give his thoughts on what the Bible says. Or, is someone more likely to leave this place lifted up if they come expecting to hear about the meaning of life as revealed by the scriptures, or if they come expecting to experience God, through word, prayer, and song? Our view of what "church" is and what faith is all about is driven by vision, or the lack of, and vision in turn is driven by God's revelation to us. Vision is what gets us excited about what we're doing, and when we get excited, the word gets out and people become interested in what's going on, and soon they too become excited. And before you know it, we have a beehive of activity praising and serving the Lord.

You know, people who are always down on the world don't have a market on influencing people. People who are excited and joyful can have a tremendous impact on folks. Excitement is contagious and spreads like wildfire.

Let's consider two different scenarios.

1. Hi, Jane. Would you like to come to church with me on Sunday? We have a congregation of very nice people, we sing songs, and we listen to our pastor preach. Or,

2. Hi. Jane. Would you like to come to church with me on Sunday? What a place of joy and celebration. We praise God through our music, we learn how we can live joyful and fulfilling lives, and how the Bible is as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago. And boy the people are so nice and welcoming, I really think you'll enjoy the experience, and get a lot out of it too. Which scenario sounds more compelling and exciting, or inviting to you? Does either one speak to how you currently feel about your experience on Sunday mornings?

Let's face it, if we didn't understand God's vision for us as his children, how many folks do you think would be Christians today? If eternal life with Christ were not in our future, how many of us today would be willing to take up our cross and follow him? I don't think too many would.

Well if all we offer here at church is a place to gather on Sunday morning with no clear vision of where we're going and what we're about, how many people will want to join us on this journey to nowhere, a journey with no clear idea of where we're headed. We need to be a church of vision, a church of God's vision.

Vision isn't about creating some abstract destination with fancy words and catchy phrases; it's about painting a picture of the future that God has painted across our heart and in our mind. It's a snapshot of the future from God's perspective, revealed to us as we pray and reflect on God's word. Vision describes what it will look like to fulfill God's particular assignment to us, here in this place.

I believe one reason many folks don't respond to God's call, isn't because they don't want to do what God asks, it's because they have no clear understanding of why or where their going with God's call. Now we won't always know where God is leading, but it does help to have an idea of what direction we're going in. Vision is like a compass, it points us in a direction.

I'm convinced more people will respond to God, whether it's to God directly or by saying yes to God through another person when they're asked to serve, if they understand where we're going, and if they can get excited about it, and claim the vision as their own. What's your vision for the future of this church?

Are we being called to lay bricks, or are we being called to build a cathedral?


Read other messages by Pastor Wade