A Sermon from February 11, 2006 - delivered at Kendu Bay Adventist Hospital Church, Kenya
Have you ever considered reality? What is it? When you are in bed with the mosquito net down around you and you look out that is your current reality. When you lift the net and look out the reality changes just a bit and that becomes your current reality. Which is more real?
You and several friends are in Kisii walking along a street when all of a sudden a matatu and another car collide. What you witness is your reality. Each one of your friends, while seeing the same event has a different perspective of that event – a different reality.
We were speeding along, while on Safari in the Masai Mara, when all of a sudden our driver stopped. The reality I saw was just more of the same savannah. However, our driver had a different reality: he saw they way the animals were moving and looking and within a few seconds of stopping he pointed to a stand of trees, across a river, about a half mile away: “There, do you see it? A male lion.” I had to take out the video camera and zoom in to see it. All it took was openness to a larger reality than my own to see so much more.
Repeat after me:
“I can live the life God has called me to live, in all dimensions—work, family, relationships, community, and the larger world.”
Do you believe it? How do you feel when you say it?
Most people have an automatic reaction to that statement. They either believe that they are powerless or even if they had the power to make it happen that they are unworthy to have such a life. And some people believe that they are both powerless AND unworthy.
In God’s reality nothing is further from the truth. Instead we have been enslaved to a way of thinking and acting that reinforce the feelings and beliefs of powerlessness and unworthiness. We are slaves of our beliefs. This is our current reality.
God has the big picture. Thus the truest reality is found in God. We see ourselves as powerless and unworthy, God sees our true potential and the reality of that potential in action. There are dozens of times in the Bible we are told to “change the way we think and act.” There is evidence that many of the flawed Bible characters did just that.
Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and his parents, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephtha, David, Samuel, and all the prophets have three things in common: 1) God called them; 2) They believed; 3) They committed themselves to action.
These people of Hebrews 11 were called to some pretty BIG things. Most of us are not called in that way.
I first heard God calling me to trust him as a four year-old and into my teenage years. As I graduated from University I followed God’s calling to work in the Hollywood film and television industry. Six years later he called me to leave Hollywood for a nonprofit religious group. He has called me to the career I have.
I have also been called to a long and satisfying marriage.
I have been called to deep and personal friendships.
I have been called to offer my best to my wife, my family, my job, my friends, my community and the world at large.
I have been called to live a balanced life.
I have been called to a deep and personal relationship with God.
I have been called to live the life of the Spirit and reap the fruits of the Spirit.
I have been called to many things, this I know.
I also know that I don’t always feel up to the task.
I am not alone.
“This law I have found at work… that which I want to do I don’t do, and that which I don’t want to do I do… (Romans 7)
Who will save me from this? Thanks be to Jesus.”
“The truth will set you free.”
Who is “the truth”?
Wisdom calls out:
Who is wisdom?
John 15 tells us Jesus has called us to friendship; and that he has chosen us to produce fruit that will last.
2nd Thessalonians chapter 2 tells us that “in the beginning he chose us to be saved through a life of spiritual devotion and faith in the truth.”
And this one from 1st Peter chapter 1 “God the Father knew you long ago and chose you to live holy lives with the Spirit’s help…”
1 Corinthians 1: 27 and onward:
“God chose what the world considers nonsense to put wise people to shame. God chose what the world considers weak to put what is strong to shame. 28 God chose what the world considers ordinary and what it despises-what it considers to be nothing- in order to destroy what it considers something.
Have you considered the difference of “choosing” and “wanting”?
[review these verses using and comparing choosing and wanting]
In his book "The Fifth Discipline" Peter Senge says this: "For most people, 'I want' is passive; 'I choose' is active... wanting is a state of deficiency - we want what we do not have. Choosing is a state of sufficiency- electing to have what we truly want." (p360)
[examples from my life: Trixy; Work; play; etc]
God also, has said “choose” and “chosen” rather than “want”
1 Corinthians 1:9
“God faithfully keeps his promises. He called you to be partners with his son Jesus Christ our Lord.”
So I can readily admit that I do not always feel up to the task. But I can choose to believe. This helps me create a vision for myself of what I will become. It helps me accept God’s design for my life.:
I believe God has called me and chosen me.
I believe God to be true to his word.
I believe I have been empowered to continually grow towards my calling.
I believe I have been made worthy to achieve my calling.
I believe that one person can make a difference.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Reminding me that I am not powerless.
“I have come that they might have life more abundantly” John 10:10 reminding me that God considers me worthy.
And this one found in Mark 9: 23 and 24
Jesus said to him, “As far as possibilities go, everything is possible for the person who believes.” And the child’s father cried out at one, “I believe! Help my lack of faith.” And this reminds me that I can believe today and that my belief today is small to the belief that is coming.
In following our calling and believing is acting. We can still choose to ignore our calling and we may chose to never truly believe. However, If we choose to accept our callings and we choose to believe what God has promised, then action will follow.
This is also not easy. Since “wanting” is passive and “choosing” is active, we can see that acting on our calling and belief involves our choosing. But choosing isn’t enough on its own. We need also commitment. Choosing declares our action and direction. Commitment keeps us moving towards our choices even when the going gets difficult and discouraging. I could go on for hours about choice and commitment, but let me just summarize for today: We need to be committed to:
and finally to “seeing it through”
“Imitate me as I imitate Christ.”
Jesus is called to reconcile the universe to himself
Jesus is committed to truth
Jesus is committed to restoring freedom and choice
I haven’t even begun to discuss “freedom”. But one thing I council is this: “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” Christ has set us free. Free we are. Free to enslave ourselves again. But God hasn’t called us to slavery, but to true freedom.
What binds this all together is “Love”. True freedom is described in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 and in Galatians chapter 5. Love which isn’t sentimental, but committed and unconditional.
“If we let Him—for we can prevent him, if we choose—He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (through, of course on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful, but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.” CS Lewis
So in my own example:
I choose to follow God’s calling.
I choose to have a long and satisfying marriage.
I choose to have deep and personal friendships.
I choose to offer my best to my wife, my family, my job, my friends, my community and the world at large.
I choose to live a balanced life.
I choose a deep and personal relationship with God
I choose to pursue truth about myself—about my thoughts and actions
I choose to limit my freedom in order to achieve my calling.
Today, I am your safari driver. I say to you today “Do you see it, across the river and by the tree of life? It looks so far away, but it isn’t. There by the tree is the Lion of Judah. And he is calling you.” You are not powerless or unworthy to answer his call.
What is your calling?
To what are you committed?
What do you believe?
And what will you choose?
“May God who began the good work in you see it through to completion…”
2 Thess 3:3-5 paraphrased
The Lord is faithful, he will establish you and keep you from evil. And I have confidence in the Lord touching you, that you both do and will do the things that are necessary to let go of what holds you back from your calling.
May the Lord direct your hearts into the lover of God, and into patient waiting for Christ.
This is my prayer for you today.