When I Call Do I Want Him to Answer?
There is a major misconception among a large population of people claiming God as their own. It is the notion that obedience to God can be achieved by completing only half of what is required in order to be pleasing in His sight. Specifically this is apparent in the premise that one can “call on the name of the Lord” so that he may be saved from his sins. Rather than getting bogged down in semantics, it is often easier to approach spiritual issues much like Jesus did in His use of parables. The act of making a call is one which lends itself well to this type of study.
Let’s look at some modern day concepts of making a call:
1.The proverbial “house call” made by the trusted town doctor. So, this one is really only modern as it relates relative to times past and present. At any rate, we understand the concept. Suppose a child is sick with a fever on Friday evening after the local doctor has already gone home for the day. Rather than loading the family up in the car (or wagon, as the case may be) we choose a simpler option. The father makes a call to Dr. Smith and explains the symptoms that his son is experiencing. Dr. Smith is not only the town doctor, but he is a respected pillar of the community, plays golf with the father occasionally, and maybe goes to church with him on Sundays. Clearly he is trusted to make a sound decision concerning the son’s well-being. So, the call is placed and Dr. Smith being the good doctor that he is happily agrees to stop by and take a look at little Johnny. When the doctor knocks on the door he has, for all practical purposes, made the house call. There is not a rational mind to be found which would be happy if the story ended here. Why? Nothing has changed. Johnny is still sick. Continue the story. The father’s options become several at this point. A) He can open the door and invite the doctor inside explaining what his son’s symptoms include and thank him for stopping by, B) He can do all of the steps of option A but this time direct the doctor to Johnny’s bedside where the doctor proceeds to examine the sick boy, rendering a diagnosis and suggested course of treatment and once again thank him for kindly stopping by, or C) do all of steps A and B, in addition to following the doctor’s orders designed to make the boy healthy again saving him the anguish of further pain and suffering and restoring him to a state of good health.
2.Consider the possibilities of being “called on to serve” or a “call of duty”. In this case, some of the more common circumstances include either a mandated call to serve as in wartime conscription or matters of conscience like the moral obligations mankind feels to serve his fellow man. In the first case, a wartime “call” is made by the government pursuant to the Selective Service Act of 1917 signed by President Wilson. As a response to the low military numbers of the time, it was decided that young men would need to register for military service in the event that the country was in a wartime situation. So, again imagine our little Johnny from the example. He is all grown up and finds himself receiving that dreaded little piece of paper in the mail calling him to serve his country in the military. Just like before a “call” has been made. Johnny has a few options here- some legal and others not so much. A) He can place the notice in the nearest trash receptacle otherwise known as avoidance, B) He can seek legal opportunities to reject “the call” such as a health condition either real or falsified or possibly claiming a conscientious objector status thereby essentially telling the government “thank you, but no thank you; I do not wish to answer your call to serve” or C) Accept the terms of the request and follow the directions making Johnny one of the beloved servicemen willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.
Similarly, consider the man or woman who feels a moral “calling” to serve. This may be in the form of fulfilling a humanitarian need like helping those who are downtrodden, orphaned, homeless, etc. etc., or possibly working in a field which has as its primary purpose serving others like as a fireman or policeman to name a few. While not legally mandated and subject to formal consequences this “call to duty” is instigated by a person’s moral radar as it responds to the world around him. For this individual there are the same basic options: A) ignore the feeling and hope it will subside, i.e. do nothing, B) Seek other opportunities that may not be as fulfilling but requiring less effort by the individual or C) Answer the call to serve by pursuing the proper avenues to fulfill the perceived moral obligation.
3.Finally, the simplest call of all: the phone call. Here Johnny is making a phone call to his neighbor to request assistance with a task like moving a piece of furniture for instance. He dials the number. The neighbor is faced with some choices. A) He sees Johnny’s name on caller ID and allows the call to go to voicemail, B) He answers the call but for whatever reason does not agree to help Johnny, or C) He answers the call and happily goes to his neighbor’s aid.
What conclusions can be made from these examples? Well, in all of these situations, the request or call itself is pointless unless some definitive action is taken by the receiver of the call. In most cases, the actions being taken are either going to leave the caller disappointed by the negative outcome or achieve the desired results. Consequently, everyone understands that making “the call” is merely a beginning and only half of the equation. It is not in and of itself a resolution.
So, let’s translate this to the original question. When I call do I want Him to answer? Calling on the Lord is a step in the right direction, but it is just that-one of multiple steps. Acts 2 illustrates this point perfectly. On the day of Pentecost, peter is delivering a long discourse to an eager crowd. It is important to note here that Peter is explaining many things including the fulfillment of the prophecies of old. In verse 21 he says, “that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Unfortunately, there are some who conclude that Peter simply stops preaching here. It is not so. In verse 37 after hearing the rest of Peter’s words, the men ask “What shall we do?” Peter instructs them to repent and be baptized. This raises the question that if calling on the name of the Lord involved only saying His name or thinking about Him, then why does this crowd need further clarification? If they were saved in verse 21, then why continue to listen and to ask what needed to be done in order to obtain salvation? The logic simply does not hold. They heard the word, repented and were baptized. Finally, they were added to the church. This call was only complete when the caller followed through with the directions of the Lord. Colossians 3:17 says that every act that a Christian performs whether in word or deed must be carried out according to Christ’s authority.
Just as the father is not going to be satisfied until he hears the doctor’s instructions, follows those instructions, and receives results in the form of the betterment of Johnny, so it is that we must only be satisfied when we call on the Lord, listen to the directions, follow those directions, and receive the results in the form of the hope of Heaven.