Altar Call –
A servant’s heart the defining mark of a Christian
said the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and anointed him to preach. I
remember when that same thing happened to me.
had helped to arrange a “youth revival” during my senior year at Wetumpka High
School. Several friends shared my excitement about Jesus and we wanted to see
teenagers saved from their sins.
revival is a dim memory now. We had a good turnout but I have no recollection
that anyone was saved. All I remember is that one night during that revival the
Spirit of the Lord came upon me and I felt called to the ministry. I can take
you to the place at the altar where I knelt in tears and said yes to God. I had
gone to church to pray for others to be saved and I got called to preach. It
was the first of many surprises I have experienced in my journey with God.
reaction of my family and friends was supportive, unlike the response Jesus
received from those he had grown up with in Nazareth. My friends did not become
angry and try to push me off the Bibb Graves Bridge. Those listening to Jesus
describe his call to preach wanted to throw him off a cliff.
Jesus seemed to have no doubt about his mission in life, I struggled to
understand what it meant to be called to preach. Doubt raged within me. Who was
I to claim that the Creator of the world had called me to preach? Uncertainty
dogged me during my early years in college. Finally there was a breakthrough. Gradually
my doubt gave way to what the church calls “blessed assurance.” That confidence
was surely a gift from God for no one can serve well without such inward
uses people to bring light into our darkness. He did that for me through the
friendship of Elton Trueblood, a Quaker preacher and college
professor. He helped me grasp the truth that every Christian is a minister. His
teaching made sense. “A non-serving Christian is a contradiction in terms,” he
said. “To be a disciple of Jesus is to
serve others in love, for God calls all Christians to the ministry of
Trueblood did not mean that every Christian is
a pastor or a preacher. By minister he meant a servant of Christ. Every Christian,
then, is a ministering servant of Jesus Christ.
generation has not fully grasped this meaning of discipleship. We insist on the
separation of the secular and the sacred. We see life as divided into separate
arenas: the secular and the sacred. But such a dichotomy is a misunderstanding;
all of life is sacred and what we call secular is sacred in the eyes of God.
this concept and you begin to see that God “calls” school teachers to a
“ministry” of service to children This
same idea brings the dignity of Christian ministry to other vocations such as
medicine, law, social service and other disciplines. Wherever there are people
with needs, God calls his disciples to see their work as a calling to the
ministry of servanthood. Mark it down: the defining mark of a Christian is a
may be gloriously dignified when we see it as a ministry. An attorney, a
homemaker, a doctor, a nurse, a teacher, a carpenter, a waitress, a journalist,
an attorney, an electrician, a truck driver, an architect, a plumber – each one
can see work as “a ministry” honoring Christ by the way people are treated. A
“job” can be boring when done simply for money. A “ministry” is exciting when
done to the glory of God!
Trueblood’s definition of a Christian is worth
remembering: “A Christian is a person who, in the midst of many voices
clamoring for his attention, hears the Voice of Christ, and that one Voice wins
his complete allegiance and he begins to know the dignity of his little life
being used for a mighty purpose.”
matter where our vocation has placed us, when we hear and obey the Voice of Christ
calling us to ministry, we find joy in knowing that our little lives are being
used for God’s mighty purposes. That is a joy money cannot provide! And it all
begins when the Spirit of the Lord comes upon you! + + +