How do I know Jesus is calling?
Updated: Jun 20
After the traditional worship service on Sunday June 18, a question came my way from an inquisitive mind. He asked, "How do I know that it is Jesus calling?" Very interesting question. I took that question to heart as I did my weekly personal debrief of the day, our shared worship experience, and its impact on the congregation. Here are some of my thoughts.
In the context of worship this past Sunday, we sang a preparatory hymn entitled "The Summons" found in The Faith We Sing hymnbook. Written by author John Bell and sung to a traditional Scottish hymn tune Kelvingrove, this hymn offers a challenge to those who would enter covenant discipleship with Jesus. In the case of the hymn writer, he penned these words prior to entering into collaboration and discipleship with a small group of Jesus followers at the Iona Community in Scotland. The first stanza of this hymn asks the questions:
"Will you come and follow me if I but call your name? Will you go where you don't know and never be the same? Will you let my love be shown, will you let my name be known, will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?"
As we sing this song in worship, it is intended to ask us (maybe for the first time or maybe for the umpteenth time) whether we are ready to follow Jesus. In worship we read the scripture from Matthew 9:35-10:23 in which Jesus calls and names the twelve disciples. He gives them their sending commission with instructions to go and do like Jesus has done: healing, teaching, preaching, loving, caring, and growing along the way with their neighbors.
How did the disciples know their call from Jesus was genuine? I believe that at first they may not have been sure. But by stepping into their faith in Jesus as Messiah, they began to see the lives of real people transformed in their midst. As they walked and listened to Jesus, they experienced Jesus and the grace that can grow a person to believe. As Jesus trusted the disciples to go and tell his story of God's love, that practice filled with a divine-inspired compassion changed their lives as well.
How do we know that it is Jesus calling us now? That is an excellent question, my friend. It is the question one should ask when hearing a summons to follow Jesus. Is that really you, Jesus? You want me to do what? Compassion was the key to my reading of this scripture and the selection of this particular hymn for Sunday. It is the compassion of Jesus when seeing the people longing for love and restoration in their communities that led Jesus to pray to God for harvest hands. Grace is the vehicle in which we find that compassion lived out in the mission of Jesus, the Lord. When our faith is expectant and questioning, the divine compassion of the Lord sees us and invites us into healing, into living in relationships of love, into growing in the mercy and compassion shared with others.
How do I know that it is Jesus calling? Test it! Try it! Live it! Follow the instructions given by Jesus to his twelve disciples. Simply Jesus.
"Will you love the "you" you hide if I but call your name? Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same? Will you use the faith you've found to reshape the world around, through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?"