Man’s Response

The “Call”…

To be called is to decide to have a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.  God “calls” us to do this.  Circumstances of our lives may exacerbate the call and those circumstances may be the product of our own choices, but when we are called, our value system begins to change.  We don’t want to engage in our old way of living, we don’t want to make the same old choices; we want to try to follow the ways of Jesus.  We desire fellowship with Him most of all and we come to realize that God values us for who we are, not for what we can produce and achieve in this world.

Part Four of Basic Christianity is entitled “Man’s Response.”  John Stott has introduced Christ the person in Part One, “Man’s Need” in Part Two and “Christ’s Work” in Part Three.  He is making his closing argument for the believer in Part Four; Stott wants his readers to know the basics of The Faith and how to respond when they feel “The Call.”

First of all, when an individual feels that Christ is asking for a commitment, they should realize that He is asking for a public commitment.  Stott writes “It is not enough to deny ourselves in secret” [116].  Christ knew that His church would always be a minority movement in the world if dedication to Him was a secret; He wanted His followers not to be ashamed of their association with Him.   The Apostle Paul declared that an open confession of a life dedicated to Christ is a condition of salvation.  He wrote in order to be saved “we have not only to believe in our hearts but to confess with our lips that Jesus is Lord, for man believes with his heart and is so justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved.”  Confession results in action.  Family and friends should know of this commitment.  Joining a church is a requirement so one can associate with other Christians.  At work or in school, the Christian should not be afraid to speak of his new belief if questioned.   All this is to help us be better Christians, to show the fruit of a Christ-centered life to others and even to witness so others can come to Christ. 

But why answer the call?  On June 30th, I wrote “Take Up Your Cross” an explanation of the cost of being a Christian.  If a person is called to do so much, what is the payoff?  Are there incentives to being a Christian?

Certainly, I had a friend tell me that he would like to be a Christian but he told me he would have to quit gambling and he loved it too much.  Another friend told me he loved another woman so much that he could not be a Christian.  The woman he loved was not his wife so he loved his adulterous affair too much to be a Christian.  I even had a friend who said he loved alcohol too much to be a Christian.  He told me “if I become a Christian I won’t have any more fun.”

Stott writes that “many people have a deep-seated fear that if they commit themselves to Jesus Christ, they will be losers” [117].  Of course there may be losses when one makes a public profession of belief.  I lost some friends who did not understand why I did not want to do the same things I used to do.  Some family members thought I was crazy for going to church so much and talking about Jesus so much.  Here is the big question though:  what did I gain?  I began to lose some of the guilt I had when I was sinning because I began to stop doing the things that caused me to feel so wretched. I gained freedom from sin.   I began to look around and see that people around me needed me.  I started giving of myself because the whole world no longer revolved around me.  As I began to slowly accept my Christian identity, service to others became natural.  Stott says it this way: “to live for God and for man is wisdom and life indeed.  We do not begin to find ourselves until we have become willing to lose ourselves in the service of Christ and of our fellows” [117].  I gained a new purpose and a new mission and identity.

Another incentive is the power of God that a Christian can bring to this world.  It is a crazy world we live in, a chaotic place that makes little sense most of the time.  The values of this world are not the values of God and His Son Jesus, and Christians exist to remind people that other options are available.  Jesus described His followers as “salt of the earth” and “light of this world” and we can be that to nonbelievers.  To live lives of peace and love in the midst of bedlam sends a strong message.  People see that and people wonder how it can be done; this gives us an opportunity to share our secret with others.  Where does the power to overcome this world come from?  It comes from God, not us.  To Him goes the glory.

This leads to the greatest incentive of all. We should live life for Christ’s sake.  Jesus said “whoever lives his life for My sake…will save it.”  Stott puts this in words that we can all understand:  “When we are asked to do something particularly hard, whether or not we are willing to do it depends very much on who asks us, and to whom we are indebted, we are glad to agree.  This is why Christ’s appeal to us is so eloquent and so persuasive.  He asks us to deny ourselves and follow Him for His own sake” [119].

Earlier I referred to a June 30th post entitled “Take Up Your Cross.”  It was all about our sacrifices for the faith.  The crosses He asks us to take up are very little in comparison to His.  He loved us so much that He suffered shame and pain that was unbearable. How can we deny or reject a call on our lives if it comes from God?.

Let’s end on Stott’s effort to get all of us to say yes to “the call.”

“If you want a life of self-discovery, deeply satisfying to the nature God has given you; if you want a life of adventure in which you have the privilege of serving Him and your fellow man; if you want a life in which to express something of the overwhelming gratitude you are beginning to feel for Him who died for you then I urge you to yield your life, without reserve and without delay, to your Lord and Savior.”*

Say “ yes “ to the call.

*Basic Christianity, p. 119.

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