“EVERY MEMBER CALLED”
An English philosopher Edmund Burke once said ‘Evil triumphs because good men do nothing’
In our text today, we see how Jesus expressed his profound empathy for the lost, the broken hearted, disenfranchised people of the world
as he went around towns and villages and his heart filled with pity for them and likened them to a sheep without a shepherd.
That is why He said the harvest is large but the workers are few to gather it.
There is a computer internet game called “Farmville” where you can plant seed and earn points to buy new seeds by harvesting what you have planted. But when you failed to harvest, you crops get withered. You see, full grown crops if not harvested will end up wasted.
Harvest doesn’t last forever. There is a window of time to harvest crops. If we don’t get there in time, it rots. When harvest time comes,
you have to be ready to go the fields.
In our Scripture text, what Jesus meant when he said “there are great number of people ready to be harvested for the Kingdom” is that all around us… there are broken, bleeding, hurting people, ripped apart and left to die, they are ready to be reached-out if only someone will go to the fields.
Today, what this Scripture text means is that out there at the doorstep of our church, are people who are like lost sheep that needs a shepherd who will lead them towards the flock and into the sheepfold. If they are not taken into the sheepfold, their lives can get ruined, broken and lost. Out there at the doorstep of our church are crops ready to be harvested, and if they are not gathered and put inside the barn they can get withered, rotten, wasted. Lost sheep and wasted harvest signify people outside our church who are ready to be won over into our faith community, but were not so because no one picks up the shepherd’s staff or the harvester’s sickle so to speak.
At Ellinwood Malate Church, here in our church, to challenge and inspire our members to pick up the shepherd’s staff and the harvester’s sickle, I would like us to put an acronym to our church this way: “EVERY MEMBER CALLED.”
Maybe, many of you have already experienced/have already felt, the joy, the privilege, the honor of becoming an answer to the prayer of someone.What our Scripture text is telling you today is that you are an answered prayer. Somebody is praying out there. You are the answer to that somebody’s prayer.
When Jesus our Lord saw the multitude of people who are like lost sheep without a shepherd, He said to his disciples, "The harvest is large, but there are few workers to gather it in. Pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out workers to gather in his harvest…"
The Lord Jesus instructed his disciples to pray to the Lord of the harvest to raise up laborers for the harvest. Do you think Jesus’ disciples followed what Jesus have asked of them? To pray for the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers? I would like to believe so!!! I believe Jesus’ disciples have prayed! And you are the answer to the disciples’ prayer!!! (Amen!) You are The answered prayer!!! (Amen!)
God is a God of mission. And God is calling all believers to be involved in His Kingdom building. You are the answer to that calling because Every Member Called, Even as in this world, all believers are called by God to proclaim the Good News, set freedom, help the deprived, and announce the dawning of the year of the Lord’s favor to all mankind.
God’s calling requires that we emerge from our religious cocoons and immerse ourselves in the lives of hurting people, to plunge, chest-deep, into morass of human need. Our calling is centered on meeting human need and the unflinching proclamation of the Kingdom of God. Jesus enjoins us to preach the nearness of the Kingdom and address the sufferings of the “lost sheep.”
A story has been told that Jesus went back to heaven after his resurrection and was greeted by the angels. They rejoice and praise Him for His victory over sin and Satan. And then they asked, “Now what, Lord? Who will bring the message of your grace to the world?” Jesus proceeded to tell them about a small group of common men and women – tax collectors, doctors, businessmen, fishermen, farmers, widows, some poor and homeless. He said, “I’ve appointed these people to spread the gospel to others who would spread it still to others.” The angels began to talk about this among themselves. Then one, with a worried look, turned to Jesus, and said, “Lord, what if they fail? What’s your backup plan?” Jesus simply smiled and said, “I have no other plan.”
Jesus is banking on you, and, please forgive the use of the word, he bet his blood and life for you. Because he trusts you, that you will heed his call and enlist yourself into the roster of shepherds and harvesters for Christ, to be mentored by the Holy Spirit and commissioned by God the Father.
As I Meditate on our text, I have come to reflect that Christ does the Calling, The Holy Spirit does the Coaching (of course thru church workers and leaders), and God the Father does the Commissioning.
I would like to correct the notion of many about the word VOLUNTEER. You see, I believe that in church ministry, church mission, or church service, there is no such thing as volunteerism. In God’s paradigm, There is no such thing as “volunteerism,” but there is such a thing as “calling.”
The apostles didn't volunteer, they were called. They were like the prophet Jeremiah, to whom the Lord said, "Before I formed thee ... I ordained thee" (Jer. 1:5). The disciples were sovereignly called by God. They were under orders. In the same token here at EMC and even in the wider household of God, Every Member Called. We just have to listen attentively to, and heed the call of God. In this context, I am not asking you to volunteer. I am asking you to heed the Master’s call.
To those of you who are doing service in this church, in whatever form and manner, however great or small you task is, please oh please,
Put into your mind and heart and soul that you are there not because you’ve volunteered, as if you do the task you are doing by your own decision, by your own volition, by your own liking or not liking. Your are there because you are sovereignly ordained by God to that calling.
It’s God who planned and purposely put you there, because he trust you, he likes you, he loves you, he blesses you to be a blessing to others. Sisters and Brothers in the Lord, You are called by the Master to proclaim the Message and do the Mission. We are called by the Master to proclaim the Message and do the Mission.
You might be saying, Okey pastor, so much for that, we are called, fine, Now, we want to heed God’s call, what are we to do?... Here is what you will do. Be Enlisted, be Mentored, and be Commissioned. You need to come forward, have yourself listed amongst those who heed the call, and make yourself ready and available for coaching or mentoring. There are so many mentoring classes in our church.
You are convinced of God’s call for you? Participate in our coaching or mentoring classes.
The disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ were three year in the making. They were coached by the Lord for three years. In our Scripture text in Matthew 10:1-8, they were given instructions as to where to go and where not to go, what to do and what not to do, what to expect and what not to expect.
In our time today, the Holy Spirit is the one coaching us, giving us instructions, inspiring us, empowering us and guiding us in as we heed the Master’s call to proclaim the Message and do the Mission. Often, there are people who ask me, "How do I know if I am called to the ministry?" This question is a no brainer as far as our sermon title is concerned, “Every Member Called.”
No need to question, no need to ask, but only to heed, to respond to the call. In doing so, the Holy Spirit will work in us:Opening our eyes to see how God sees our world Opening our hearts to feel how God feels for the people Opening our minds to understand how God called us to minister to people of the world.
The disciples received a direct commission from the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord told them to follow Him. That was clear enough. They didn't ask for the Lord to show them signs (cf. Judg. 6:37-40). What they had was a direct command. In our case and time, God is more indirect. It all starts in seeing the world thru the eyes of Jesus Christ. We could be looking at the crowd and see nothing. Crowds pass us by. Crowds make us tired, nervous, irritable. It’s easy for us to tune people out, and take care of our own business.
To see the crowds of the world requires something inside. It means redefining our view of humanity. All of us gravitate toward PLU—People Like Us, whether it be at the church, social club, the grocery store, the malls, schools. By nature we tend to hang around people who look like us, talk like us, act like us and think like us. Our kids marry their kids. We raise our children to fit into the social order. And that’s not wrong. But if we are ever going to see the crowds as Jesus did, we must open our eyes and break the mold. Jesus saw something the disciples didn’t see.
Even so we may live our whole lives bombarded by the call of God, Sunday in a Sunday out… and see nothing … and feel nothing.
The world is full of people who are not like us. The first step is see them! Then we are to feel what we see around us. When we talk about feeling something deeply, we talk about the heart. It means that we are emotionally moved by what we see around us. For the last two weeks we have been bombarded by news relating to corruption in high places, murder amongst fraternity brotherhood, a boy child molesting a girl child, broken families and marriages, poverty, flooding, conflict among nations, exploitation, environmental degradation and so many other heart breaking social maladies.
Church… do you see it, do you feel it, do you care? Then heed God’s call. Note that until you see, you will not feel. Until you feel, you will not care. And until you care, you will not heed God’s call. In our church it is my prayer that Every Member Cares.
Let us pray…
The world is full of people who are wounded, bruised, mangled, cast down, bleeding, slowly dying. As long as you close your eyes, you’ll never see what Jesus saw. So we must pray, “Lord, open our eyes that we may see the world through your eyes, that we may feel the plight of the people through your heart, that we may respond in live love as much as you have loved the world.”