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Summary: Jesus calls and we must follow, but when we do He promises to transform our lives and to use us for His glory and honor.

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The Call of Jesus

Matthew 4:18-22

Today is President Lincoln’s birthday, and in his honor I’d like to begin with an imaginary story.

There once was a man who thought that it was a shame that instead of celebrating Lincoln’s birthday like we used to, we now just celebrate the generic President’s Day. This upset him because he thought Lincoln was one of the greatest men to have ever lived. In fact, he so admired Lincoln that he had joined a group of followers called “Linconians.”

These “Linconians” met once a week on Friday evenings (that was the day Lincoln was shot). Their leader was a man with a Master’s Degree in American History. Every week, he would read a selection of Lincoln’s writings, and then give a talk explaining what Lincoln meant and suggesting various ways they could apply these writings to their lives. And of course, on February 12th, Lincoln’s birthday they would gather together for a party and exchange gifts. During this special service they would sing Civil War songs and someone would dress up like Lincoln in a beard and top hat and give gifts to the kids.

This man so admired Lincoln that he owned a beautiful leather bound copy of Lincoln’s complete works – his speeches, writings and letters. He would display this leather bound book on a table by the front door of his home so that other people would know immediately upon entering his home that he was a “Linconian”.

He was fearful of opening this special leather bound book. To him it was priceless and he didn’t want to damage it in any way, so he had never taken the time to actually read or study it for himself. He really didn’t feel the need to personally study the writings of Lincoln. He felt that most of it was common sense kind of stuff like “Do unto others, the golden rule, be nice to people, free the slaves, and so on.” And besides he was faithful to sit and listen to the half hour speech about Lincoln every Friday night.

He once was asked by a curious friend what it was like to be Linconian. He replied that he: “Goes to the meeting every Friday, he celebrates Lincoln’s birthday, he owns a leather-bound copy of his works, and that most of his friends are Linconians, too.”

Not satisfied with this answer the friend asked: “So how has your life changed as a Linconian? What is it like to be a follower of Him? What do you talk about when you get together with your Linconian friends? Do you talk about Lincoln?” His response was “Well I’m just like everybody else. No different. And when my Linconian friends get together we just talk about sports, politics, our families, and so on. The same thing everybody else talks about.”

Of course this is just a silly little made up story, but unfortunately it typifies how many Christians approach their faith. Is this all that God calls us to? Are we meant just to have a superficial relationship with Jesus as some dead guy whom we admire, or are we to follow Him with all our hearts as Lord and Savior? Is the call to Christianity just a call to a set of beliefs, or is it a call to a lifestyle of discipleship?

There is nothing worse than not knowing your purpose in life. And yet how many of us go through life as Christians not knowing what God is calling us to be and to do. When we lack clarity about our calling we are like the London mass transit authority which made a tremendous blunder a few years ago.

It seems that the city’s buses tended to drive right pass bus stops even though there were customers standing in line waiting to be picked up. The London Transit Authority was swamped with a barrage of complaints among the public. When confronted with complaints of the people, they issued a public relations statement which has become infamous. Their statement read: “It is impossible for us to maintain our schedules if we are always having to stop and pick up passengers!”

That transit authority forgot that the whole reason they existed was to ‘pick up passengers’. Instead they lost focus on what was really important and instead focused on the goal of running on schedule at the expense of having any passengers in their buses.

Of course we would say this is stupid. Everyone knows that busses are to carry people. But how often as Christians have we mistaken that our purpose is simply to show up on Sunday, occupy a seat, say a few prayers, read a few verses, sing a few songs and then head home to our lives that are never any different during the week. Is that what being a Christian is all about? Is that what Jesus calls us to?

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