Monday, August 18, 2014
Jesus’ call to “come” is a call to enter a battle
IN THIS post (which is a bit long, apologies, but it’s a good story and it doesn’t split well) I am talking some more about Simon Guillebaud’s call to Burundi, the subject of a message yesterday in Speen Chapel (second item down on this page) which evidently spoke to those there.
This was based on Simon’s talk in the Arena at New Wine, week 2, in which he told his story and quoted one of Oswald Chambers’ many pithy, memorable sayings: “If you abandon [everything] to Jesus, and come when He says “Come,” He will continue to say “Come” through you; you will go out into life reproducing the echo of Christ’s “Come.”
The call to come is seldom easy and Jesus recognised this. Jesus told His disciples (John 16:33) that in Him they might have peace. However: “In this world you will have trouble. But TAKE HEART! I have overcome the world.”
Simon explained that his own call was like this, and he brought a teaching from Genesis 12:1-8, based on Abram’s call to leave his country to travel to Canaan. He used this to explain what Oswald Chambers meant by “abandoning to Jesus when He says ‘Come ‘ ”, using the acrostic Claim, Obey, Maintain and Embrace. (That is so-o-o-o traditional as an outline – but hey! It worked. And you’ll remember this, as I did.
Claim God’s promises. After the Lord said to Abram “Leave your country, leave your people…” there followed a sevenfold promise, starting with “I will make you into a great nation… I will bless you, make your name great and you will be a blessing..” Abram believed and set off, and received, and when he eventually reached Canaan he built an altar to the Lord (Gen. 12:7-8). It is good for us to “have an altar”, a place to remember God’s promises and victories. Others may let you down but God will always meet your needs. Claim the promises.
Simon talked about his call out of a good career track, firstly to do a year-long prayer and preaching course. On the second to last day, when others were talking about the church possibilities that were opening up for them, Simon had nothing in view. He was set to go back to his job and career – when he received a summons, a request to meet, on a scrap of paper – a word about Burundi.
He did go back to his job, but only for a week. There was a confirmation about this call to Burundi that made it unmistakable. So, like Abram, he needed to take hold of God’s promises and, trusting, he set out. Like Abram, it was not exactly a smooth journey – we’ll get to that.
Obey God’s commands, with no bargaining. Scripture shows close correlation and obedience. John 14:15, 21, 23 makes a statement that does not sit well with our culture of independence.
Jesus said: “If you love Me, you will obey what I command… whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me. If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching.” The promise that goes with this is that of knowing, and being aware of, God’s presence and His love.
Obeying is what we do because we love God. And if we are setting out to please Him – He is pleased. He loves us to bits. And if we know that He loves us, we will do anything for him.
A. W. Tozer said that when you hear God’s truth you will either move, or not. If you do not move, the next time you hear God’s truth, you will be less willing to move. And so it goes on – a picture of hardening of heart.
We have to obey, because it is part of the sign that we love God. My story (Simon said) is that I went out to Burundi for the wrong job entirely, but through a series of coincidences, including the head of Scripture Union Africa happening to be in the same country at the same time and staying in the same guest house, God’s connection was made.
Maintain faith. Abram just “left as the Lord had told him” (Gen. 12:4) and it was a difficult journey that involved a detour into Egypt as a result of famine. Delay and difficulty is often part of our story, and through it we learn that God is in charge, not us.Thomas Merton’s prayer reflects Abram’s experience, and ours: “Lord, I do not see the road ahead… I cannot know for certain where it will end.” That’s faith.
Embrace adventure. Abram was called by God to “leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1)
Another person who received this kind of call was Hudson Taylor, the first Christian missionary to inland China in the mid 1800s (a work that we now know as OM). Taylor, never one for the safe option, said: “Unless there is an element of risk in our exploits for God, there is NO NEED FOR FAITH.”
We want people to come in to where we are, but Jesus tells us to go! This is about embracing risk together, not doing it alone. At one time we used to go running on the beach of Lake Tanganyika early every Sunday morning (vulnerable!) praying for people to receive Jesus. The time we see miracles is the time we get outside the church building, in enemy territory.
Simon’s organisation, Great Lakes Outreach sends out about 800 evangelists on mission each year. The risks are considerable – some have received beatings. Some have even died. Simon has had threats on his life and he has a young family. However, last year more than 18,000 people – yes, that’s right – gave their lives to Christ, and hundreds were delivered of serious demonic oppression, crippling disease, marriage breakdown and every other kind of affliction and sickness. God honours the praise of sacrifice!