SUMMARY: CALL (3) The Effect of Our Best Self Being Called Out?
We’ve been looking at a four-part mini-series of Sunday messages around this theme of being called out. We began by speaking about how surprising it is, shocking even, to realize that we are not as anonymous as we think – and that we are being called out by something/ someONE who sees straight through whatever careful veneers we’ve made to mask our living – and seeing the very best of us – this is a someone who is constantly calling that very best out.
Our ‘soul self’ is another name for that ‘best self’ – what various teachers have come to call our ‘true’ selves or ‘most real’ selves. And that ‘calling out’ of our ‘true selves’ is what we believe is right at the very root of our faith. We believe in the reality of our inner, very best, made-in-God’s-image-selves being called to come forward, to emerge.
We are a called people, and that’s WHAT is being called out! We began our series by looking at that. Last week our focus was on WHY our best selves are being called out in this wonder-full way. We saw how it’s because we are essentially so totally, deeply loved, and that God longs to see us come to live into the fullness of what we have all already been made to be. This week we are looking at what may be the EFFECT on us of our realizing this. Next week, we’ll look at what that calling out OBLIGES us to be and to do. But for this week, it’s about the EFFECT on us as we realize that we are being called!
And so, what can we expect the effect on us to be as we realize that we are being called? That’s us both as individuals who may experience that sense of being called as well as a community of faith. What should we anticipate as the possible effects of God’s call on our lives? And that’s a good question because I think for many or even most of us, most commonly, it’s nothing! Just no effect, because, mostly, we miss it. We miss it because we are just not listening for it, either because we have so much going on in our lives – things that we allow to distract us or because we are so comfortable with where we are, that we are kind of blocked off from hearing it . I think that we too can become so settled in our ways of thinking, living, being, believing, that we stop expecting ourselves ever to be called – we stop expecting anything ever to be any different from the way we know it to be – how it’s always been. It always shocks me, to read that passage in Psalm 14, where Eugene Peterson describes God as looking out from heaven on the earth for any sense of actual God-expectancy, …and finds nothing…
And so, no effect! I’m suggesting that we may also be too distracted, or too settled to notice as the best of us is being called out. Or else, while we may indeed have some sense of being called, we may resist it because we don’t like it. It shakes us up! We may find ourselves feeling threatened by it, or intimidated, challenged, annoyed even. It discombobulates us! And so, we may try to ignore it, or escape it. We may push it out of our minds, or even regret that we’ve heard it at all.
I think of today’s text and of how scripture describes Jesus as pushing back at our resistance to being called as a form of demonic possession: “Jesus, what have you to do with me? Leave me!” With Jesus’ response being, in effect: NO! COME OUT!
I think of Exodus-Israel’s response to being called out of their slavery in Egypt, and of how it wasn’t too long – as they faced some wilderness hardships – that they began regretting their having answered God’s call to leave and longing back for the captivity-comforts of the life that they once knew and left behind. They were regretting their having heard God’s call on their lives and so were wanting things to go backwards, however slavishly bound, and unhappy they were.
There’s also the story of defiant Jonah running away from God’s call. Jonah who tried SOOO desperately NOT to follow what he knew God had called him to be and do…
CS Lewis writes with almost confessional honesty about his experience of this – at one stage regretting his answering of God’s call to marry Joy. What had begun as a pen-pal friendship, and then became a marriage of convenience, quickly developed into a much holier thing after Joy’s diagnosis of cancer and going into remission before Joy suddenly became very seriously ill and dying. He writes of that in his book ‘Shadowlands’. Before hearing God’s call for him to fall in love with Joy, he confesses, while he had SOOO much, he was not loveable. “I’m not sure God wants us to be happy. I think God calls us because God wants us to love, and be loved …to know love!
That, it seems, is what God’s calling on our lives is always actually, primarily, all about – that we may become ‘loveable’ as we come to know, receive, and share love.
The very best of us is always being called out by God – because we are so very loved. But the effect of that being called may be lost because we allow ourselves either to be so distracted that we miss it, or, as we hear it, to so fear having to be transformed in our living that we may run from it.
Well, distraction and escape are not part of God’s plan for us. Yes, we are called!
But the plan is for us to hear that call and to allow our best selves to emerge.
Be blessed by it. Come into our wholeness. As Jesus says, using the metaphor of himself as the Good Shepherd and us as his sheep : My sheep hear me calling them – they know My voice, and I know them, and (as I call) they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.
That would be an image of us ‘coming home’ to an awareness of what we are meant to be as God’s plan for us and all the world. We leave it here this week. Next week we’ll be looking at the beautiful and God-given OBLIGATIONS of such a call.
Rev. Robin Jacobson reserves all rights © 2024.
You are welcome to use, copy, edit or reproduce this message summary with copyright attached. Publication is prohibited.