Summary: 1) 'calling' is an invitation to follow; 2) calling is the adventure as following unfolds; 3) to respond to the calling in faith will involve some “leaving”; and 4) calling always originates with and centers upon Jesus.
Scripture Text: John 1.43-50
Mindin’ his own business! He was minding his own business, …sitting under the shade tree, …doin’ his devotions. That’s-what Nathanael was doing just-before his friend, Philip, came and turned-his-world up-side-down!
Mindin’ his own business! He was minding-his-own-business, …hangin’-out with his good-friends. That’s-what Andrew was doing just-before his friend, pointed to a stranger and said, “He’s-the-man!”
Mindin’ his own business! He was minding-his-own-business, …down-at-the-lake, …cleaning his fishing-gear. That’s-what Peter was doin’ just-before his brother, Andrew, came and said, “Peter! You’ve gotta meet this guy!”
Mindin’ our-own-business, …that’s what we often find-ourselves-doing when Christ comes-a-callin’!
The second half of John, chapter 1, tells-how the first disciples came to follow Jesus. And, as-you-read-through those events, …it’s-striking how it-all-came-about.
We use this word: “Calling”, …and it’s a word that has-almost taken-on connotations that are bigger-than-life; …it’s almost-got a life-of-its-own! To talk about “calling” seems-like such a heavy-thing. It’s weighted with seriousness. It’s-as-though you have to talk-about-it in hushed tones.
But-although there is a very-serious-side to “calling”, …as I study these passages, …I’ve come to see another tone. And that’s-what we’re gonna-explore this morning. Some of the questions that naturally come-to-mind, on-this-topic, would-be: What does it mean to be “called” of God? What’s involved in hearing and responding to His call? What’s-in God’s mind when He calls somebody like-you, or like-me?
Well… those are just-some questions that you might-expect to come-up in a sermon dealing with the subject of “calling”. But, another question that I’d like to invite you to let-linger is this: What is the tone of God’s calling?... Is it booming, …harsh, …demanding? When God calls, …is He like the drill sergeant who yells, “Jump!”; …and-waits for the enlisted-men to respond with, “How high!?!” What is the tone of calling, when God calls?
And-what-I’ve-found, …as I read through the calling of Philip and Nathanael, …what-I’ve-found is that the tone of Christ’s call is the tone-of-invitation.
I. Calling Is an Invitation to Follow
And-I-think-that, this is true in almost every case. When God calls, …it’s an invitation to follow. And-it’s-not-just with Philip and Nathanael. If you look earlier in John, chapter 1, …you find the same-kinda-thing with Andrew and Peter. And you see it in Matthew’s Gospel, …when Jesus called James and John, it was, “Come, follow me!” Calling is an invitation to follow.
How often do we use this word (i.e., ‘calling’) …in some-kind-of super-spiritual sense? Maybe we’ve got this picture in our minds of Moses before the burning-bush! Maybe we think-that that’s what a calling is supposed-to-look-like! And-so, we expect a clap-of-thunder, …the crack-of-a-lightning-strike, …or a heavenly-vision of the throne-room-of-God, like Isaiah had.
But I’m coming-to-realize that most-times, when God calls, …it’s a-lot-softer in-tone. And, Moses’-experience and Isaiah’s-experience - …they were the exception to the rule!
In terms of becoming a disciple-of-Jesus, God’s call is an invitation-to-follow. Jesus simply-said to Philip, “Follow me.” Phillip then-went to his good-friend, Nathanael, …and he-said, “come and see”.
The tone, is friendly. It’s conversational. It’s an invitation to follow Jesus. The invitation to follow is the call to discipleship; …but it is also an invitation to discovery and adventure and exploration. In-a-word, …it’s an invitation to a relationship.
Sure, there-may-be a vocational-component to God’s call on your life. Ya-know, …He might want you to become a pastor, …or a missionary, …or a teacher, …or a host-of-any-number of specific-things. But, the-specifics aren’t the heart of what calling-is-all-about. The heartbeat of God’s call on all-our-lives is this-invitation to-follow Jesus.
II. In Order to Follow, We Must Leave
The second-thing to see about God’s calling is: …in order to follow Jesus, we must leave.
When Jesus invited Philip to follow Him, …he had to leave… He left the place where he was. He left the position where he stood. He left the comforts and the familiarity of home, in-order-to-follow Jesus.
In order for Nathanael to follow Jesus, …he had to leave. He left the shade of the fig tree. He left the reputation of-being a highly-respected citizen. He left the comforts and the familiarity of home, in-order-to-follow Jesus.
Thinking of James-and-John, and Peter-and-Andrew ~ …in-order-for each-one-of-them to respond to Jesus’ invitation to follow, …each-one had to leave. James-and-John left their father in the fishing boat. Andrew-and-Peter left their nets on the shore. Each-one-of-them left the comforts and the familiarity of home, in-order-to-follow Jesus.
Now, when a sermon starts using language-like, “leaving the comforts and familiarity of home” ~ …our imaginations immediately-jump to taking that in the literal sense. And our hearts-and-minds start churning with anxiety ~ …possibly-even-fear ~ …at the thought of leaving our families, …moving to some strange city, …or some-foreign-nation, …all-because God “called” us away.
But, instead of focusing on the things we leave, why not focus on the things we gain? They gained greater-understanding, …and a deeper-relationship with Jesus. They found forgiveness and acceptance and a-place-in-God’s-plans for the world. Through these men, …the world was changed! Through these men, …hearts were saved! Through these men, …men-and-women, boys-and-girls discovered the life-changing reality of God’s-redeeming-love. Look-at-what they gained!