Calling

 

Stop Calling Me

Revelation 3:20 : Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been sitting at home doing something important like taking a nap or having a piece of chocolate pie when, wouldn’t you know it, the phone rings and interrupts what you’re doing. It might be important, but because you’re no fool, you look at the caller ID to see if you want to answer. What you see on the little screen is a “703” area code and a “368” exchange number followed by four numbers that don’t matter. Based on this, you figure it’s someone you know and care about, so you answer the phone, expecting to hear the soft tones of someone you like.

Instead, a young woman with way too much energy says, “Hi! My name is Kristie and I want to talk to you about reducing your credit card debt.”

Now it’s here that, because there are so many things to say, I have to hesitate so I can pick which one to use. That doesn’t matter to Kristie—I know that she will blather on until she asks, “Can I sign you up?” so I have plenty of time to consider my options. Frist of all, we’re blessed to not have any credit card debt, so maybe this call is a wrong number. Or Kristie is trying to make me think I do have the debt and offer me a loan at a high rate of interest to pay it off.

What I really want to do is to start screaming and continue until she stops talking (although she might win that contest), but then I think, Screaming is not good for my voice, and my director would not like it if I blew out my voice by screaming. I also could say, “Stop calling me! Stop right now! Quit! Go away! Leave me alone or I’ll hold my breath until I turn blue!”, but I don’t. I could as well say, “Put me on your ‘do not call’ list,” but I don’t know if there is one of those anymore. Apparently not, since I’m getting these kinds of calls. There’s too much going on to think straight so I interrupt Kristie—actually I don’t, since she continues to talk, remember?—I just say, “I’m not interested,” and hang up. It’s rude and probably breaks Kristie’s heart, but she deserves it. She was keeping me from my pie.

When this happened to me the other day, I thought that it’s good that most of us don’t try to convince people we’re someone or something else. It’s also good that the majority of us don’t force someone to talk to us when they don’t want to. Jesus understood this when he said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” He is all that, and we can trust his saying so. It’s also important that Jesus allows us to come to him without force or coercion. He said, “I stand at the door and knock.” He has to knock since the door to salvation, like doors of Jesus’ time, can only be opened from the inside, from within our souls.  We make the decision to open our lives to him freely, openly and with a full knowledge that when we do, all is taken care of, and we will live with Jesus forever.

Kristie is probably a nice young woman who is trying to make some money, but I wonder if I should have invited her to come to church. She might have turned me down—that would be her choice, after all. Or she might have come, and seen what a difference belief could make in her life. And maybe she would stop misrepresenting herself and asking people to do something they really don’t have to do.

Praises to God for not forcing anything on us and for loving us so much that we have the choice whether to accept his gift of salvation or not. And praise to God for God’s love and bountiful, eternal salvation through Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

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The Seat of Majesty

 

The Throne of God Revelation

Isaiah 6:1: In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.

I don’t know if you think a lot about chairs. I tend to, since I like to sit down because I’m lazy. Maybe some of us don’t think a lot about them because they are so common. But such was not always the case.

The earliest chairs we know about came from Egypt during the Early Dynastic Period (3100 to 2686 BC). They were covered with cloth or leather, were made of carved wood, and were much lower than today’s chairs – chair seats were sometimes only about ten inches high. In ancient Egypt chairs appear to have been of great richness and splendor. Fashioned of ebony and ivory, or of carved and gilded wood, they were covered with costly materials, magnificent patterns and supported upon representations of the legs of beasts or the figures of captives. Generally speaking, the higher ranked an individual was, the taller and more sumptuous was the chair he sat on and the greater the honor.

It is possible that the Israelites would have been aware of these chairs during their time and captivity, that this awareness might have influenced their ideas about the throne of God. Notice in the passage from Isaiah that God is “high and exalted.”

Other ancient cultures such as those in China and India also had chairs, although their use was rare until the twelfth century.

So, chairs were for many centuries a symbolic article of state and dignity rather than something for ordinary use. Because of this history, committees, boards of directors, and academic departments all have a ‘chairman’ or ‘chair.

The chair did finally come into common use in Europe around 1600 during the Renaissance, and by the 1880’s, chairs had become common in the United States.

The visions of Isaiah and that of Revelation which show God “high and lifted up” are meant to convey a sense of power and authority not only to believers but also to those who not, who may choose to change that unbelief. God’s power and nature are not dependent on anything, including creatures who believe or not. God is absolute, eternal and loving, and one of the miracles about God is that, as Christ incarnate, he came down from his high throne to walk in the dust with those like us. Praise God for his majesty, his goodness to us, and for his sacrifice made so that we with God may be, one day, high and lifted up ourselves. Amen.

 

Vicarious is as Vicarious Does

 

Sand Lot Players

Mark 16:15: And Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”

I don’t know if you’ve heard of a baseball league for kids that is run by the kids themselves. It’s called “unorganized baseball,” and adults are not allowed to have anything to do with the game. They’re not supposed to cheer the players, although some do occasionally. And they certainly are not supposed to advise, cajole or berate the players. A player from each team acts as an umpire, and that helps insure that the calls will be fair. There are no uniforms, no pressure, no tantrums, and no crying because the game is relaxed, much as the sand lot games were that we used to play as kids. The idea is to have fun, enjoy the game and get some exercise.

Of course, we know about the pressure and stress that can be a part of league play. Unfortunately, some parents who perhaps didn’t do well playing baseball when they were young want their children to do what they could not, and so they use their youngster to play vicariously through them. The harm caused by their yelling, scolding and berating their child is immense, and even though some leagues try to prohibit what the parents do, the adults persist. I hope “unorganized baseball” will grow and make an impact of how kids play other games, as well as on their lives.

I was thinking about these parents who live vicariously through their children and what a mistake it is, and believe that our faith is decidedly not vicarious. In the Great Commission, Jesus told his disciples and tells us to go ourselves into the world and made disciples. We are not allowed to send someone for us or send our money. That doesn’t count. We have to be involved in sharing this great treasure that is salvation and in continuing to walk with God. Praise God that we can be a part of God’s great plan for everyone, and that we can continue to be with God, supported by the Spirit to share the news of the sacrifice in love of the Savior. Amen.