Reflection on 1 Samuel 3:1-10, John 1:43-51, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Sermon "Listening for the Call"
On this Sunday after the Baptism of the Lord, the scripture readings focus on Jesus calling the disciples. As Christians, we believe that Christ is always calling us to leave our nets and follow him. The question is not whether Christ is calling but rather if we are listening. Through today's scriptures, we will ponder three reasons we may not be listening.
The first reason we may not be listening is because our ears are filled with too many other voices and distractions. For the church in Corinth, a vibrant port city, prostitution was one of the major "distractions" facing members of the young church. Paul places prostitution in the category of those sins which dominate us. While fornication is the obsession with gratification through sexual activity, there are other addictions which can dominate and enslave us. When any method of handling stress becomes an obsession that dominates our lives, it falls into the same category Paul is addressing. These obsessions crowd our hearts so there is no room for the Holy Spirit and control our bodies so that we can no longer totally give them to the Lord. These sins block our ears from hearing Jesus' call to leave those obsessions and distractions and follow our Lord.
The second reason some do not hear the call is that, like Samuel, they have never heard the word of the Lord. While people may be familiar with the political stance of some religious groups or biblical stories that were made into movies, a personal encounter with the living Savior is growing rare. Spirituality is no longer simply associated with a relationship with God through Christ but rather reflects a "new age" approach to meditation and self-help techniques. As in the day of Samuel, "The word of the LORD was rare in those days; visions were not widespread." The Lord may be calling but his voice may be confused with a restless spirit or a need for something more but a lack of knowing what "something more" might be. Like Samuel, people are running to people who have "poor" eyesight seeking knowledge because they believe the "church" is either corrupt or irrelevant.
Finally, the reason many even inside the church fail to hear Christ's call is because we assume we already know. Nathanael assumed that nothing good could come out of Nazareth. If he had let that assumption prevent him from follow Philip to Jesus, he would never found the one he had been waiting for. A knowledge of scripture and a lifetime going to church does not mean that we know the mind of God or who God will use as the messenger of God's calling. Jesus may be heard in worship or at work. Jesus can be encountered in the preacher or the homeless person under the bridge. Jesus may call us to the Food Pantry or to quality time with our friends and children. Walking with Jesus means walking with Jesus and not running ahead or staying behind. We must always be listening so that we can navigate the turns of life and discover the wonders of God.
Whether it is because it has been a long time since you have heard God or life has become to distracting or you have fallen into a spiritual rut of assumptions, it is time to wake up and listen for Jesus is calling. Are you ready to hear his call today?