We live in a world with constant bombardment of things coming at us that lead us away from what we know is right. There is an industry out there creating wants for us. We may have absolutely no desire whatsoever for “stuff”, but after a number of advertisements on television, in magazines or on the radio the desire for the unwanted becomes compelling. Then we suddenly discover that we want something we didn’t even know existed a little while before.
This can be seen especially in the line of children’s toys. Year after year, there’s another toy that children simply must have. I remember a few years back when the toy “Tickle Me Elmo.” Was the must have toy. Everyone wanted one!
But it is not just in children’s toys — we all fall into this trap on several levels, from the new car to the latest phone or the must have beauty product. We see something or we hear about something and we suddenly want it……
The Biblical word for this is covet. The ten commandments say “Do not covet your neighbor’s stuff.” This is what we are doing when there is something out there that we want, or we feel that we need. When we covet our longings and our yearnings may become out of control and it is then that we make bad decisions.
Now this is not a new thing, Paul is telling the Corinithians that we do things that we don’t want to do, even when we know they are wrong. He tells this to the Romans and he is telling this to us.
He tells the Corinthians – It is true all things are lawful — God has given us free will, we can do things, with food, money or sex – but that doesn’t mean they are all good things. It doesn’t mean that we are giving glory to God.
So the question is, how do we overcome this? How do we make the right decisions?
We go back to the lessons that we read today. We have the letter from Paul, but we also have the story about two callings. The old testament lessons is about the calling of Samuel and the Gospel lesson is about the calling of Philip and Nathaniel. These are stories about desire–God’s desire–God’s yearning for Samuel, Jesus’ yearning for Philip and Nathaniel.
Now the story of young Samuel is an amazing story. In the flickering lamplight, God calls to Samuel until Samuel finally hears and is able to respond, “Yes Lord it is I.” Then, in the New Testament story, Jesus calls to Nathaniel and Philip, saying, “I want you; follow me.” and they get up and follow Jesus.
Our God is a God of love, and God’s love does not stop at an individual but a community. God wants to enter into a relationship with us as individuals but also us as a community.
We see this going all the way back to the Israelites — when they were leaving Egypt God instructed them how they can live in a community. They were struggling as a community so God redefined for them what community is and he told them how they can respond to one another and to God in love.
When God called Samuel it was not just to tell Samuel what to do — but to call him to a community to lead. When Jesus was calling Nathanial and Philip he was not telling him to go off by himself and lead God’s people, he was calling him to be a disciple, an apostle one of many.
God wants to enter into a relationship with all of us . We are a part of God’s heart. God yearns for Samuel, Philip, and Nathaniel, you and me.
The stories in the Bible, especially the stories of Samuel, Philip and Nathaniel say something about God–God yearns for God’s creation. God yearns for you and God yearns for the church. God calls each and everyone of us!
Then ask the question why — “Why did God call Samuel?” He was just a kid. He had nothing going for him. He didn’t know the Lord.
“Why did God call Nathaniel?” Nathaniel was sarcastic, he doesn’t seem like your typical disciple. But yet Jesus was able to look at him and say, “I want you, I love you.”
Why does God call us? Sure you may be a good manager, or a good cook. Perhaps you are a good accountant, or you teach well. Maybe you write good poetry or can fix a car.
But here’s the thing, we all have gifts, skills and talents, We can use what God has given us to benefit our lives and the community that we belong too. But when we finally meet God face to face. Is God going to love you because you were a good manager? No, those days are over. Is it because you are a good a good teacher or a good cook? Is God going to look at you and say well I love you because you can add or because you can fix a car? No, God loves you because you have been made in the image and likeness of God. God loves you because you have been named and claimed in your baptism. You have been marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit. God loves you because of who you are and whose you are. You are God’s beloved child.
God calls each and every one of us to discipleship. God desire for us is to be happy and filled with the Holy spirit. And the best way to experience this is to define what church is for our community as we respond to God’s love and as we share that love with all people.
Listen to the full sermon below: