"The Kingdom Call"

OCTOBER 13th, 2019 PASTOR DON PIEPER 

Your Kingdom Come! Matt 9:9-13;Jn 15:16/1 Thess 1:1-5;2:11-2 

“THE KINGDOM CALL” 

We're in week five of our series..., exploring Jesus' primary message, that through him, the Kingdom of Heaven has come near. As Luke notes, “Jesus traveled about, from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 8:1) 

As he did so, and people began to show interest, he made it clear that this kingdom of heaven of which he spoke was not only something happening around us, as demonstrated by healing the sick and casting out demons, but also something happening within us, evident in transformed lives – lives no longer lived for the glory of one self, but to the glory of God. Further, he noted, that this came about not simply because we chose to live so but because we'd been chosen, called, to enter into his kingdom. 

As Jesus told the Twelve just before parting company, “You didn't choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit....” (John 15:16) Or in the words of the Apostle Paul: 

“You are God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved...” (Colossians 3:12) “He's calling you to share in his Kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12) So what does it mean to be chosen, to be called into the kingdom? What does that call look like? 

{pic of dog holding a can to his ear} 

Probably not much like that. So what will it look like? How will you respond when God calls? 

Calvin: [RINGG – RINNG] Hello, we are unable to come to the phone right now... So please 

leave a message at the sound of the click. [*click*] 

Okay. That's not good. Probably not wise to hang up when God calls you. So what does it look like when God calls you into his kingdom? From our readings this morning, one thing comes into focus – Jesus calls us both personally...and collectively. Let's take a look at both. 

One thing's for sure, Jesus' call to enter his kingdom is personal. As he told his friends, after telling them that they were his friends, “You didn't choose me. I chose you.” (John 15:16) 

Think about that for a moment. Jesus chose you. Even while you were stuck in your stuff, wandering around as if the world rotated around you, and though, as a hopeless sinner scripture says we are in effect operating as enemies of Christ and his kingdom, he still chose you! Imagine! 

Remember what it was like when you were growing up and teams were being picked, what it was like to be chosen? It's quite the feeling! Contrast that with being the last one chosen. When I was little, I was often chosen last or next to last, and for good reason! I was like Calvin....in this strip... 

Boy with hat: Hey, look who made the out! 

Boy without: It's....Calvin! 

Calvin: Heck, it was nothing, guys. When you're in top physical condition like me, you can.... 

Boy with hat: You moron! What were you doing in the outfield? It's a new inning! We're up to bat! 

Calvin: Huh? 

Boy with hat: You caught the ball for the wrong team! You got our own guy out! 

What a dweeb! What a jerk! What an idiot! 

Calvin: Oops. I dropped the catch. It doesn't count now, right? 

Boy without: Get him off our team, Mr. Lockjaw! 

Boy with hat: Can I hit him with the bat? Please? Please?

That was me – inadvertently helping the other team! It's a gift! And that's me, without Christ at the center. Left to my own, despite my best efforts to the contrary, I'm always helping the other team – and yet even still, Jesus chose me – a choice that surely has left many scratching their heads. 

So it was with Matthew the tax-collector. When the Pharisees saw that Matthew had been chosen to be on Jesus' team, they complained to his other disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” (Matthew 9:11) Like me, Matthew's reputation preceded him. 

But notice who they complain to! They don't go to Jesus, who made the questionable choice, they go to his disciples. Why do you suppose that was? Clearly, they thought they would find a sensitive ear or two there. After all, these fishermen and tradesmen, guys who physically worked hard for a living, must not have been too thrilled with Jesus' choice either. Why'd you choose him, rabbi? 

Why him? One because, in spite of himself, in spite of his lying, cheating, self-serving ways, Jesus absolutely loved the guy. What's more, he saw his potential as a kingdom player. He said to him in effect, “I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit....” (John 15:16) 

What a choice! He says to Matthew, “ I chose you. Follow me and be my disciple.” (Matthew 9:9) Can you imagine Matthew's initial reaction? Really? You want me? Don't you hear what others are saying? 'Yes, I want you! I'll teach you how to gather treasure for my kingdom, kind of like I'm teaching these other guys to fish for people.' And before Jesus has left town, Matthew is gathering treasure and producing lasting fruit. “Later Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners.” (Matthew 9:10) 

Do you see how personal that is? He knew all about Matthew's past and present and he called him to follow him anyway. He saw something in Matthew that others didn't see, he saw something in Matthew that even he didn't see, couldn't see..., and part of what he saw was his potential...! Jesus even went so far as to identify this as his mission statement, the reason that he came! “I have come not to call those who think they are righteous but those who know they are sinners!” (Matthew 9:13) 

So what do we know about Jesus personal Kingdom call? Well, clearly Jesus came to call sinners. Do we have any sinners here today? Yeah? Well, then guess what? Jesus is calling you – and he's calling you specifically to alter the course you're on and follow him – everywhere! Some times we need to take pause, maybe do a spiritual inventory, and respond anew to his kingdom call. 

We can also see that Jesus calling is counter-cultural. In this culture you get chosen because of how talented, sporty, good-looking or knowledgeable you but in Jesus' up and coming kingdom of heaven, you are chosen not because of how good or gifted you are but because of how good and gracious God is! He chose you, he's calling you, quite simply because he loves you! He wants to share with you the kingdom – the Holy Spirit moving in, among & thru the Body of Christ...! 

Furthermore, he chose you because he has exciting plans for you! Paul put it this way: “You are God's masterpiece. He created you anew in Christ Jesus so you can do the good things He planned for you long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10) God has a good plan for you and he's calling you to action in his kingdom because he loves you and because what you uniquely bring. One thing we bring, as Matthew makes evident, is our circle of influence. Jesus called Matthew because Matthew had connections – as do each of you...! And again, Jesus saw his potential – his true gifting....! 

So at one level, Jesus' kingdom call is very personal. Having established that, one must not dismiss that his calling is extended collectively as well. One believer a kingdom we do not make. A Kingdom is a collective term. Just as a running back a football team he does not make nor does a Christ follower a church make. We need each other. God's love for you is very personal but because he so loves you he calls you....into community – to be, collectively, the family of God, the Body of Christ. 

Paul makes this clear when he writes, “We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people.” (1 Thessalonians 1:4) Notice how the idea of being “chosen” and being loved by the Creator of the cosmos is interwoven with the idea of being his people – a term referring to the community of Christ. Our calling is shared, in part, with everyone here! 

We heard that earlier in another letter he wrote: “You are God's chosen people...” (Col. 3:12) 

He has chosen you to be his own people. Our value and worth then is wrapped up, not only in our re-lationship with Christ but with the Body of Christ still on earth – the fellowship of all believers! The word, 'you', there in the original Greek is plural – kind of y'all reference in the ancient world. Y'all are called individually but also, more so, collectively. We thrive as a tribe! 

Anyone remember the commercials for Delijn Travel? I share these once before but they're fun and poignant enough to share again. As they point out: It's better to travel in groups... 

[YouTube video of the Delijn commercials, “It's Better to Travel in Groups”] 

Like a pod of penguins or an army of ants, we thrive as a tribe! As Paul so eloquently pointed out, “For God called y'all to share in His Kingdom and glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2:12) 

Jesus calls us into His Kingdom as it is only in community that we fulfill our calling to be His kingdom in this time and place. It's why we place such an emphasis on committing oneself to Jesus' mission, for bringing the kingdom of heaven to life, by moving into a covenant relationship with Christ and with the Body of Christ as it takes shape here – or elsewhere! It's better to travel in groups, to serve Christ in his community of followers, to respond to his call beside others doing likewise! 

There's an expression people are using a lot these days, maybe you've heard it, or even used it. It's the expression, “You're my kind of people!” Have you heard or used that one? I kinda like it. I especially like the T-shirt that puts that out there in a positive way: 'Kind people are my kind of people'. 

I like that. Kind people are Jesus' kind of people, to be sure. The expression was borrowed by the staff of a local library in a cool way. They posted a note on their bulletin board and on their web site that read, “Dear little girl who excitedly yelled, 'It's look at books time!' as she ran inside our building. We just want you to know – you're our kind of people!” Love, The Library. 

That's cool! I like that. Claudia has told me about some cool little people who are the library's kind of people. Well, I'm here today to tell you, that God has looked into your heart, and catching a glimpse of his son there, has declared, You're our kind of people! And in doing so, sent Jesus to let you know that you've been picked for this purpose – he's chosen you for his team – a team of kingdom players! 

The question remains, how will you respond? Maybe you've never invited Jesus to set up his rule in you! Maybe you did once but now you're kind of stuck in a rut. Maybe you're a believer but not so much a follower. Maybe you show up occasionally but not sure if you belong or where to plug in 

Maybe you've been waiting – waiting until the bills are paid, your health improves, your past is put behind you – or maybe you're waiting for the right opportunity. Might I suggest, there's no better time than the present. Jesus has called you to enter into his kingdom – not merely when you die – but here and now. “He's calling you to share in his Kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12), and there's no higher calling than that – especially as he calls you to share this kingdom with others! 

Maybe you sense his call and are ready to respond. If so, then I invite you into doing so now. I'll offer a prayer aloud that you can echo in your heart and then make your own. Let's pray...