At the beginning of the year I challenged us to think about our calling as a community of Christians gathered around God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As Christians we tend to talk about ministers or youth workers or overseas missionaries as being called by God; And yet , as Christians, people who are followers of Jesus, we all have a calling from God to live and work and worship him together. The Baptist Union of Great Britain have come up with these helpful headings which I have reflected on and offer to you :
We are called to be a worshipping community – the bible talks about our whole lives being lived in worship to God and that worship is a fragrant offering to God – worship isn’t just singing songs, it isn’t just coming to church – though Sunday worship should be a special priority in our diaries– our whole lives 7 days a week should be lived for God – that is true worship! And that is a fragrant offering that is pleasing to God.
We are called to be a missionary community – mission doesn’t just happen across the other side of the world – we are all called to be missionaries, Jesus said to Go out into the world making disciples and baptising them into the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit – for some people that will mean being prepared to live in a different country or a different town – for others and for most of us here, we are called to be missionaries to our families to our friends to people at work to people at the gym or at the U3a, anyone who doesn’t yet know how much God loves them, and that Jesus died and rose again so that they can live in the fullness of relationship with God. Ephesians 6 tells us to have our feet shod with the gospel of peace that we are prepared and ready to go, and to tell people the good news of Jesus.
We are called to be a sacrificial community – we recognise that everything we have is a gift from God, every thing. We are no better than people who have less than us, and we are no worse than people who have more. But no matter whether we have more or have less we are all called to give sacrificially, in recognition and grateful response to what God has given us:
2 corinthians 9:7 says You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
We are called to be an inclusive community – I was really pleased that at Epiphany last week Stephen challenged us in our calling to be inclusive – but so often we think of who we consider the worst person in the world, the one who we think we would really struggle to include. But what about the single mum with several children by different dads, would she be welcome? What about the man stuck in a cycle of drink and drug abuse, would he be welcome? The offender just released from prison? The young lad with the tag on his ankle, the old person who is a bit confused and smelly, the family with the baby who wont stop crying, the kids who insist on running up and down the church during our service – being inclusive, truly inclusive and welcoming is so difficult, and we have to admit that it is costly – if we are really, truly inclusive our church will look very different to what it does today – and that’s a difficult thing to say, because we know if we are honest with ourselves, that we want the church to grow and to be filled with people who are of the same heart mind and behaviour as us. And yet Jesus calls us to be inclusive – to spread the good news everywhere and to everyone even to the ends of the earth
We are called to be a prophetic community – I wonder what you think that means? Yes gifts of the spirit are awesome and we receive a prophetic word from God whenever he speaks to us. But being a prophetic community actually means something different. The prophets spoke out against injustice, they spoke out when they saw things weren’t fair, weren’t right, when people were being treated badly. They were God’s messengers, Gods mouthpiece on earth – speaking hard truths to those in power – they were not worried or concerned about being popular or in power, but they challenged the religious leaders and the politicians. And that is what we are called to do.
Many of us are in a very privileged position because of our education, because of our status in society – we have a voice that will be heard. We have an ability to make ourselves heard and to stand up for and to speak out for those who have no voice, to stand up on behalf of the marginalised and the dispossessed, just like Jesus did.
It is not easy, it is a heavy calling, a great responsibility that Jesus has entrusted to us, and yet if we can embrace this calling can you imagine what the church would be like? Can you imagine the life, the vibrancy, the joy that would erupt as lives are changed and people are transformed? When we fling the doors open and really welcome everyone, we fling the doors of our hearts open and we realise that we have so much more capacity for love than we ever realised! As we start challenging the injustices that we see around us every single day, as we speak up for those who have no voice we find sparks of passion igniting within us as God is breathing fresh new life into us; As we learn to give sacrificially – which means we notice it in our lives, it means we have to maybe sacrifice a meal out or even a holiday – if we don’t notice our giving how can it be sacrificial? But as we do we will learn to rely on and trust God more for our everyday needs and our faith will grow deeper and stronger. And how that would transform our outreach into our community as everything we do becomes a natural result of our worship. How awesome, how exciting, how wonderful – how can people resist the draw of Jesus, as they see us living in and expressing the fullness of the love of God in this way.