Pastoral Commentary: God answers our prayers when we accept His call in our lives
“Greater love hath no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (NIV- one) Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knows (NIV) not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another.” John 15:13-17 (KJV)
Last week, I had the joy of being ordained as a minister in the Church of God- Anderson. I was surprised, pleasantly so, that many of my colleagues and friends reached out to me with their best wishes and words of congratulations. I was surprised at what a difference it seemed to make that I had gained this endorsement and support! I greatly appreciate it! Still, there really is nothing different about me or my ministry from last week to this week. Oh yes, I did take classes for 3 years and have two huge notebooks full of assignments and 16 theological statements. It was quite a process. Yet, I really feel no different about my calling or my work in ministry. I experienced a calling from the Lord when I was a teenager sitting on a fence post on my parent’s acreage. My entire life has been about pursuing and fulfilling that “call.” The older I grow the more I realize that what I have been able to accomplish is such a small drop in God’s work compared to the need.
However, this whole process has caused me to think about the truth of the Scripture passage, John 15:13-17. The truth of Jesus’s teaching is that as we choose to follow Christ- we learn that He has chosen and ordained each and everyone of us to fulfill the plan He has for us – to bear fruit for His Kingdom and to love one another. I am dismayed when well-intentioned believers think all they need to do is “join a church and be a “pew duster” or “do-gooder.”
Christianity is not about being a good member of a church or doing good works. These may be good acts, but they are not what it is about. Christianity is a heart relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As we walk with Him in faith, He reveals to us “how deep and how wide” his sacrificial love is. That love was given freely to us and in return we are “called” to love one another. Yes, we are chosen and “ordained,” or “appointed” as the NIV says, to go and bear fruit for the Kingdom by loving one another. Love is no easy task! It requires hard work and sacrifice. For more on this check out I Corinthians 13.
One of the perks in my role with Youth Core Ministries is that I work with a team of believers who put love into action. It is a blessing to reach out and care for young people who need guidance and support. These young people are often very appreciative. Many times, they just need a caring adult to listen to their concerns and problems especially in the world we live in of “one parent family systems” and “round the clock work schedules.” I cannot count the times I have been working a movie at the Barron with a teen crew, and before the night is over, one of them has poured their heart out to me. It is an honor to listen, care, and pray with them and for them. The beautiful thing is our ministry does not end there. No, we pray for these kiddos, work with them weekly, and take them to camp each summer. One young girl we have prayed for over the last year and a half had left the Pratt area. We prayed that she would be cared for and find a good foster home. We did not know or hear anything from her for over a year, but we kept praying. This last weekend I was overjoyed when she called me, introduced me to her foster mother who told me, “our” girl is now singing in the contemporary praise band at their church! Tears filled my eyes as we had been so concerned for her! God had answered our prayers!
I want to challenge each of you who call after the name of Christ. Remember Jesus’s words to his disciples that have been passed down to us: we are chosen and ordained. So, yes last week I was ordained by the leadership of the Church of God, but more importantly we have all been ordained by God to love one another! Won’t you join me in this special calling? God will be the one congratulating you one day for accepting the call!