Monday, 23 January 2017

Called to follow - What or who?

Each person follows a call from God in their lives.  The disciples were just people who heard the call on their lives through the words of Christ (Matt 4.18-20). Who were they, these disciples who we revere?  The answer is simple they are you and me.  They were no special person on an individual basis they were simple honest hard working fishermen.  They heard God call through the call of Christ and they lived in the hope of that call for the rest of their lives.  They were as human as you and I in everything that they did.  They had their doubts, their fears, their times of hardship and pain.  They lived in an age when such things were more accepted but no less real as now.  Yet, they are now revered by us as the first responders to God's will and word.

In our present day we also are called but we need to consider very carefully as to what or whom is calling?  I am certain that if I asked everyone in a congregation or who is Christian that they will say either God or Jesus or Christ.  I live in hope that this is true, I live in faith that this is so.  Yet, my question is always the same: Am I? Are you?  Even as I write this I need to question myself each day to ask that question.  Why do we doubt this or rather why do I doubt this?  It is only in doubt that I can begin to see the reality of that call on my life.  It is only in doubt and suffering that I can begin to answer that call on my life.  If we cannot forsake our certainties for a moment and question our beliefs how can we know that our beliefs are certain?

Look at Paul's thoughts and words as he writes to the Corinthians.  Paul writing to a divided Church urges upon them the unity that comes with the call of God.  Paul understands that each of us is led by our own inner convictions and sometimes those inner convictions lead us away from what Christ asks of us.  We are filled with what we believe to be true to God's word and then all of a sudden we find ourselves adrift, apparently without any form of anchor on stormy seas.  It is only when we determine God's call on our lives when we feel the calmness return. In not listening to the quiet inner voice we hear only our own thoughts and our own plans.  In this we are playing politics.  This game is played throughout our lives particularly when we believe that we are called to something and are following someone/ something.  Every parish, diocese, denomination and country play this game.  We actually all play this game through out our lives as we seek to fulfill our 'call'.  It is only when we begin to understand our own doubts and fears that we begin to understand what it means to be called by God.

Are we following God into the unknown?

No person truly called into God's service is certain, we are all hesitant when a call comes, we all laugh in that calls face.  It is only when we have been beaten over the head or kicked in the rear that we begin to understand that God is actually calling us into a ministry, not our ministry, not my ministry but God's ministry.  I do not believe the Gospel tells the whole story about the call of the disciples.  I suspect that there was a great deal of cursin, cussing and bad language before the disciples followed.  We respond only after we have resisted.  If someone says to me that they have been called to be a Bishop then I have my doubts.  If someone turns away and says 'no not me', I would be more inclined to start seriously looking at the person.  If a person says "I have a plan and it is going to work" and are adamant, I would start really looking at alternatives.  I would start listening to God's and for God's call.  I am sure that the person's plan is probably a good one and would succeed for a time but God's plan succeeds for a long time not 'for a time'.  It may be simple and we may doubt it will work but I often find that God works the way God wants to work, by calling coarse mouthed fisherman and not eloquent politicians.  So who are we called by in our lives? Is it our own wants or is it truly God's call? Do we follow or do we fill ourselves with our own plans?

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