Thursday, June 10, 2010

Raising the bar of expectations...

Last night in our Wednesday worship service (yes we do have Wednesday worship that most members apparently don’t know about or are ignoring it); I was sharing “God’s Call to Abram” from Genesis 12. The context is roughly 292 years after the worldwide flood. The last time we’re told God spoke to anyone was to Noah & his sons and all of a sudden, God speaks to this guy named Abram (before the Lord changed his name to Abraham). Not only was it strange that God suddenly speaks, but He also makes a ridiculous demand of this guy Abram: Pack up, leave your home country, your extended family and your elderly father and move to a place I’ll show you when you get there. God then gave 7 promises to Abram that He would do for Abram if he obeyed and Gen.12:4 says “So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him.  Abram was 75 years old when he departed from Haran.”  Think about Abram’s radical obedience to this audacious God who interrupted Abram’s life and the turmoil God caused in Abram’s family – yes turmoil is the right word if you can imagine trying explain this to your wife, your parents and grandparents that you heard a voice from heaven and you’ve been told to move to some place, you don’t know even where it is but the voice is going to tell you when you get there so you’re going to listen to the voice…. our families might haul us off for a psychiatric evaluation! I was trying to put Abram’s experience in the context of our church life here at Calvary and I think we’re missing something, somehow we’ve come to expect less of people of faith.

We look at Abram and think it wasn’t that big a deal, that somehow it was easier for him than it would be for us to obey God today with that kind of radical faith and commitment. Abram was 75 years old at the time and I know how much stuff I’ve accumulated in 46 years and how much I detest moving. The Bible tells us Abram had a lot of people (servants) in this mix also so this was not simple. He didn’t have a moving company to come pack him up, he had herds and flocks to move and where God took him was nearly 400 miles away as the crow flies, all on foot. I read about a guy with this kind of radical faith and obedience and wonder why we can’t  get people to respond to our preschool director’s plea to move out of the sanctuary once every 8 weeks to pull a shift in the preschool department on Sunday mornings, much less move to the other side of the world as a missionary!

The faith and commitment to obey God like Abram convicts me and rattles my bones at how little we expect from modern Christians. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for the many volunteers who faithfully serve here at Cavalry but I’ve got to wonder why we don’t raise the bar of expectations higher, why don’t we call people to a radical faith of service and sacrifice. I think it just could be that we’re not interested in a “radical Christianity”, we just want a “comfortable Christianity.” I would submit to you that the God of the Bible is not into “comfortable Christianity.” He makes radical demands to obey, He stretches us to do the unthinkable to further His plans and He expects, demands and deserves obedience from us as we seek to build His kingdom, and we do it by faith. The good news however is the rewards of having God be our supplier and protector, the one who promises He’ll take care of us as we obey Him is far more valuable than the sacrifice of stepping into the realm of the unknown and risking the upheaval of the status quo in our life. It really is a great adventure to obey God, to ask Him to call you to do something with you that is bigger than you can dream. It matters not how old you are, God has an adventure for each of us as believers to pursue if you have the courage to listen to the voice of God and obey Him like old Abram did. You too can be a hero of the faith in a modern context by obeying God, even if you don’t know all the details of the call. I think it’s time to raise the bar….from my little corner of the world to yours…

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church

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