We talk much, we who speak, about the evil in the world. We tell no lie when we say with John that the whole “world” lies in the evil one but we’re not to over-read John’s statement. God has ceaselessly been at work in the hearts of the human family and has kept goodness alive even in the hearts of those who don’t know to credit their health, their friends, kindness, gallantry, patience and self-giving to Him, the one true God who is the source of all and anything that is good in this world. Christ knew well the nature and extent of the evil and heartless spirit that has usurped God’s place in the hearts of humans
And yet He will walk up to people busy with their own affairs in life and tell them that if they really want to live they should get up and follow Him and they’d never regret it. This He said believing that they would—and they did! “Crucify me,” He said, and that won’t be the end of Me, people will see and hear of it and they will come flocking to Me in their millions”—and they have done that and they do it and given half a chance millions of others will do it!
To His first disciples Jesus said, “You didn’t choose me; I chose you.” There’s something about that call, that being “chosen” and the sense that “this is my destiny to which I have been called.” “He asked me to join Him and numberless other people just like me in this assault against a tyranny that enslaves and humiliates and finally destroys.
We’ve been told of many, during the war, who were picked for a very dangerous mission. Before setting out, they tell us, the chosen would scribble notes or whisper some message to be sent to a mother or someone beloved in case the worst should happen. Usually there was a certain strain and nervousness showing on their face and yet, they say, there was something of a light and sparkle in their eyes, their heads were held high, sometimes there was laughter and a dismissal of the danger ahead. Chosen! And willing to be chosen and with it a thrill, edged with some sense of pride that they were chosen! We hear such stories and think them wonderful. We believe then that there is more in the world than crass selfishness and heartlessness.
Paul in Ephesians 1 says, ”He chose us…” Never that He coerced us, bullied us, forced us or shanghaied us! God comes seeking and finding and believing that if only His call is made known that people would lift their heads, tear up their document of service to what dishonors themselves and sign into His service. “if you are against the evil in this world and promise to end it and bring justice for all,” they say, “then count us in.”
And they do it, men and women, girls and boys, entire families, sometimes entire villages. But they flock to God only when it is the call of God they hear. They’re called out of their fear, their boredom, their daily grind and life without adventure into His presence, chosen for a peculiar mission. They’re asked to make a commitment to a God whose heart is saddened by the anguish of His human family and He wants them to be assured that He sees all and that He will right all wrongs. “Tell them that,” He says, “tell them I’m coming, tell them I want them to join Me in spreading the word to their friends and enemies that I am coming.”
Chosen to engage in “war”at its finest (2 Corinthians 10:3-5); chosen to proclaim freedom from Sin and guilt and lifeless life, chosen to proclaim a Message from God to all the nations, a warning to all the unrepentant servants of the prince of this world and a message to all the abused and plundered that One is coming and He is coming with love and fairness. There’s a new world coming! And those currently “chosen” by the Gospel bear witness to that—they are the visible expression of “the righteousness of God.”
Today we look at some honorable businesses and we’re thrilled. Sometimes we picture ourselves as doing some brave thing against tough opposition and we can’t help feeling good—shouldn’t regret feeling good. Now and then we engage with a group in a lovely enterprise, we toil at it long, patiently, returning to it when we for a while were too weary to stay with it—we return to it, determined not to leave it until it’s finished.
It’s done! There are happy smiles all around, there’s a sense of fulfillment, other things we failed at, failures that left us a bit ashamed because we now think we ended it too soon, didn’t give it enough. But that is now pushed into the background. This well was dug, this house was built, this project was completed! The muscles ache, the body is weary, the days have slipped by but the vision became a finished reality. Such lovely things happen in countless lives and they will happen in yours.
But there’s a day coming when you will finish the race of your entire life, they will take you to a hospital ward or a home where people go to be treated well when they can no longer help themselves and you will remember (perhaps with difficulty sometimes) the day you were seized by a dream and, look! you’re just about to finish living it. And you for all your pain or your awareness that you can no longer contribute to life and living in the way you once could you will know you finished your journey and adventure with Jesus Christ. You’ll remember the day when He walked up to you and called your name, asking you to join Him in a lifelong war against all that was anti-God, anti-life and anti-human and you stuck out your hand, took His and said “count me in.”
You’ll finish this adventure and you’ll finish it on your feet! By God’s sustaining grace you’ll do it for the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and for the world!
You’ll sit there in that waiting room and maybe think of Leigh Hunt’s lovely poem when a now old man reminisces about a day many years earlier when someone called Jenny kissed him and you’ll apply the imagery to a day when Someone came and kissed you and your life was never the same: Jesus Christ. Some might hear you whisper every now and then as you make your way toward Home where He waits for you:
Jumped up from the chair He sat in
Time, you thief you love to get
Sweets for your list, put that in.
Say I’m lonely, say I’m sad
Say that health and wealth have missed me
Say I’m growing old but add
Jesus kissed me!
[I’ve just now added a few sentences to the note I originally sent to my friend. D.C.]
Emerson said we don’t make friends–they’re given to us by God. I do believe that with a settled conviction.
We say “Who?” rather than simply “what?” And He does it invisibly, without noise, incognito and with full use of humans as humans. And because He operates this way sociologists like Berger, Luckmann, Durkheim or Gottwald are strongly tempted to reduce the entire process to the horizontal and to human creativeness.
He did it for me with us.