God often chooses “unworthy” people to fulfill holy tasks.
Moses killed an Egyptian. A younger son in a minor
Hebrew clan, Gideon lacked any social status. One of only four
women mentioned in Jesus’ ancestral lineage, Rahab was a
prostitute. As a Pharisee, Paul persecuted the early Christians. It
confounds our human sense of righteousness that God deliberately
calls flawed people for sacred work!
In today’s scripture, notice how frequently some form of
the word called appears. Paul describes himself as “called to be
an apostle of Christ Jesus.” He identifies the members of the
church at Corinth as “those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus,
called to be saints.” We may wonder what kind of people these
Corinthian saints were. Did they dress in rags or fine clothes?
Did they give a little to the church, or did they put in all they
had? Did they seek front seats to pray sanctimoniously before the
crowd, or did they stand in the back and plead for God’s mercy?
In all likelihood, the church at Corinth held a mixture of all
these kinds of people and more. Since scholars believe this letter
to have been written within thirty years of Jesus’ death, the
church there probably looked a lot like the people with whom
Jesus spent time.
So how does such a diverse and “flawed” group of people
carry out their holy task? Paul affirms that these saints “are not
lacking in any spiritual gift.” The cohesive nature of this community
of saints hinges on their being called to a vocation as
Christians. God calls the unflawed and the flawed, the saints
and the sinners into “the fellowship of . . . Jesus Christ our
Lord.” May we affirm our calling, for holy tasks await.
Jesus, son of David, be merciful to me, a sinner. May I live as your saint, available to serve your holy purposes. Amen.
The theme of God’s calling all believers to a life of ministry runs through all four of this week’s scripture passages. We discover that God’s call always requires a response! The Isaiah passage, one of the Servant Songs that points to Jesus, reminds us that God is the one who pursues and calls. The psalmist exemplifies the call to give witness when God shows up and is found to be faithful. In the opening of his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul reminds us of his own calling and then goes on to emphasize that all are called by God and set apart for ministry. And in John’s Gospel, we receive an example of testifying to God’s presence in our lives and the important calling of bringing others to Jesus.
• Read Isaiah 49:1-7. How has God taken the initiative to work in your life and call you to faith? What mission has God given you?
• Read Psalm 40:1-11. List the ways that God has been faithful to you in showing up and answering your prayers. How have you given witness to God’s faithfulness?
• Read 1 Corinthians 1:1-9. What gifts has God given you to fulfill your calling to ministry?
• Read John 1:29-42. How might you cultivate the discipline of “mindfulness” in your spiritual life?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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