Have you ever been to a sporting event and had a view from the “cheap seats” (aka the “nose bleeds”). These particular seats offer up some disadvantages as well as some advantages depending on your perspective. The view from the top tier of seats gives you the “big picture” experience. You can see the game being played, you can “feel” the energy of the crowd as they cheer on their team or yell at the referee; yet at the same time you miss the impact of the hard hitting body checks or skillfully placed shot on goal.
As I read through the book of 1 Corinthians I carefully combed through each chapter looking for and listening to what God was leading me to learn. As I worked through the many details of Paul’s letter to the church I had to take a step back to get a scope of the bigger picture, I had to take a seat in the “nose bleed” section to get a different view. Paul’s primary audience was the Christians at that time (the church), he had heard about their problems of inappropriate behaviour and different quarrels that had divided them between leaders and beliefs. Near the beginning of his letter Paul asks them to “recognize” their calling (1:26), a call from God to be saved through accepting the work of His Son Jesus Christ, a call to be in relationship with Him. Paul reminds the people how to live a life pleasing to the Lord, how to live in unity in their marriages, how to treat their neighbours, how to worship properly and how best to use their spiritual gifts for the benefit of all believers. The book of 1 Corinthians holds one of my favourite passages in scripture, it is often called the “love passage”. This short descriptive passage describes the love our Heavenly Father has for us, the kind of love that we should have for one another.
If I had to pick a “moment in the game” as I read through 1 Corinthians to run on the highlight reel or replay on the Jumbo-Tron it would come near the end of the letter in chapter 15. Paul gives the Corinthian church and us the most important reminder of all, the foundation of what our faith is built on, “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (15:3-4) This incredible act of love on our Heavenly Fathers behalf is the “ultimate play”, a moment in time that has been witnessed and recorded in His “play book” so we can be encouraged and learn from it.
The province of British Columbia has been trying to implement the “Idle free B.C” program for a number of years now. The message they are sending declares that unnecessary idling of vehicles wastes fuel and results in emissions that degrade the local air quality and contribute to climate change. They are taking proactive measures now to ensure that the health of the environment is sustainable for the generations to come.
Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians gives us a descriptive warning against idleness of a different sort, a behaviour that falls within our human nature that can have an effect on the “local air quality”. “We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies.” (3:11). The idle and disruptive nature that Paul describes here can also be seen as disorderly and irresponsible. There were those among the Thessalonians who felt that with the day of the Lord coming near they didn’t have to work or make any contribution to society, often adding a burden to others. These “busybodies” as Paul calls them work their way into the business of others as they work to live according to the model set before them by the Apostles (a model of self-sacrifice and commitment to doing their best in their service for God). Paul’s instruction to the believers is direct and to the point when it comes to these idle and disruptive people, “Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed.” (3:14).
Even as Paul’s command to the people might seem cold and hard he continues in verse 15 with further instructions, “Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer”. We are not to hate these people, God calls us to show them love through instruction and teaching so that they can be set free from the grip of evil and destruction. As we work diligently to be faithful and loving in our relationships with God and others we are called to be an example to others. As hard as it seems at times let us heed the words of the Apostle Paul when he says, “brothers and sisters, never tire (become discouraged or disheartened) of doing what is good”. (3:13)
Hunters use a variety of different calls to attract animals and each one has a very unique quality of sound to it. The manufactures of duck calls do a huge amount of research and field testing before producing what might be a profitable product. According to my quick search online, there are at least 28 different species of ducks in North America , each with their own unique call. I have never blown a duck call before and I hear it take some practice to get it right. Why I am writing about duck calls? Read on to find out why.
The Book of Jude talks of a different kind of call, if you take a few minutes to read this short letter you will glean from it a sense of direction (calling) for living a life in Christ. Jude writes “To those who have been called, [those in the church who believed in God and had a personal relationship with him] who are loved in God the Father who are kept for Jesus Christ”. This brief yet powerful letter reminds the people of that time and us now what God has delivered us from. Through this reminder we are called to persevere (knowing that God is with us) through the difficulties of life. We are called to build each other up in the faith, called to pray in the name of the Holy Spirit, called to be show mercy to others and called to share the good news of Jesus Christ so that others might be saved. Much like the unique call that beckons a duck to follow a certain direction each one of us has a unique call from God on our lives.
Through His word, God speaks to us, calling us into his service. I have been called to lead in full time ministry using the gifts and abilities that God has given to me, you most likely have a different calling. As unique as we all are, when God calls us out of the “pond” he has a purpose that is common to all of us, to glorify Him. We are all called to bring honour and glory to His name through the lives that we live. As a called people, the living church of today, our role in His kingdom is to live in unity, to love one another and build each other up in the faith so that we exemplify Christ’s life. As Jude reminds us, there will be times of trouble in life, moments when our faith will be tested and stretched. The call to persevere comes through putting or hope and trust in the Lord. “Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” (1:21)