To Not Only Be Called - As Seen On Sunday
We talk about “the call of God.” People say, “I received the call when I was 15 at a youth camp.” We have the Arise in Jonah and we have the Go in Matthew 28. Each week of Jonah I tried to connect our Situation to what was going on in that chapter of Jonah and it worked better than I thought. It opened lines of communication that we did not have before and made us think about the future of Empty Church.
And so when I’m trying to write a follow-up sermon to those, further prodding the development of Empty Church, I am stuck on the words Arise, Go, and Call. And I can’t shake the words of Jesus in Matthew 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.” mainly because there is a very thin line between the two and I wish for us to be chosen and not merely called.
And some might preach on those words:
“take hold of your call to become chosen”
“Take hold of your destiny as a chosen one of God.”
“Answer the call to become chosen”
But I take a charge every week to teach the scriptures, so here's come background.
There are three parables that are directed to the priests and elders:
- Mathew 21:28-32: The first is about two sons, one says he won't go to the field and then does and the other says he will and he doesn’t, Jesus uses this to tell the religious leaders that the undesirables well get into heaven before them since the undesirables believed John.
- Matthew 21:33-44: The second is about a landowner who builds the place up, rents it out, and when he sends people to collect they kill each person including the final time when he sends his son. The religious leaders once again understand that he is talking about them.
- Matthew 22:1-14: And the last Parable to we will be looking at today, the one that contains the #VOTW, is the parable of the wedding feast. The people who were supposed to come did not so the slaves were instructed to get people from the streets One man who was not dressed appropriately is thrown out where there are weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.
A lot of places you read talk about the inclusion of the gentiles and I certainly see how it could work that way, but I think in order to get there we mustn’t forget who Jesus was talking to and the two parables before it. Jesus was first talking to the religious leaders about who the undesirable people were in fact included. It was Pharisees versus tax collectors and prostitutes and Jesus constantly indicated that God valued the hearts of the latter. That is how we extend it even further to the Gentiles being the undesirables and the Jews being God’s people. God’s Chosen people, is what they were called, but just like the people in the 3 parables they had been invited but ignored the call.
The context is of a people whose hearts were much like Jonah’s, unchanged. They knew that they were the ones who “should” go to heaven and be God’s people because of all the things they did or all the things they didn't do, but they missed the heart. They thought they were more deserving. They had said they would follow God but rejected His messengers. They had been like the servants who killed the landowner’s son. They had said they would go to the wedding and then refused when the time came.
They were called but had walked away from it.
So how in the world is Sean going to connect this with Empty Church?
If we started Empty Church due to a call, are we chosen?
Just because we are doing something does not mean we are chosen. The Pharisees did all kinds of things, very righteous looking things, but their hearts were not right.
This sermon is a heart check for us. I think we are chosen because we have a heart that is being redeemed by God.
This sermon is a reminder that doing something slightly different does not make us religious elites, it doesn't mean we are “right,” and it doesn't entitle us to anything. Doing something like this, it would be easy to feel like we are the early Christians telling the Judaizers that everyone is included or Martin Luther sharing what he learned with the Catholic Church. But we much more resemble countless people who followed God and messed up along the way.
I think it's going to be soon time to start making moves to stop surviving/existing. I don't know what those moves are, they might be risky, but I believe that they will be necessary. We cannot stay where we are.