Posted by: rcottrill | February 9, 2011

Jesus Calls Us

Words: Cecil Frances Humphries Alexander (b. April __, 1818; d. Oct. 12, 1895)
Music: Galilee, by William Herbert Jude (b. Sept. __, 1851; d. Aug. 8, 1922)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Of the five original stanzas of this hymn, the one omitted in most hymn books today (CH-2), concerns the response of Andrew to the invitation of the Lord Jesus to become one of His followers (Matt. 4:18-20). The song was written for the commemoration of St. Andrew’s Day (Nov. 30), marked by those who follow the liturgical calendar. Of the other four stanzas, each one refers to the “call” of the Lord.

That term is used in a number of ways in the Scriptures. There is a general call, issued to all, an invitation to turn to the Lord, to believe and obey Him (Matt. 9:13; Jn. 7:37). Not all will respond positively to this. However, there is also an effectual call to salvation, that is a part of God’s saving work, and is inseparable from justification (Rom. 8:30). All who are “called,” in this sense, are saved. We as Christians have been “called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (I Cor. 1:9).

On the other hand, the calling that is the subject of Mrs. Alexander’s hymn concerns the call of believers to serve the Lord. To invest their lives in service for Him, according to whatever gifts and opportunities He provides. I’m reminded of the words of Maltbie Babcock (author of the hymn This Is My Father’s World):

Be strong!
We are not hear to play, to dream, to drift;
We have hard work to do, and loads to lift;
Shun not the struggle–face it; ‘tis God’s gift.

When the Lord called him, Andrew was already a believer in the Old Testament sense of the word, a devout Jew who was looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. The first chapter of John’s Gospel reveals that he was a disciple of John the Baptist who witnessed the latter pointing to Christ and saying, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn. 1:29).

He followed the Lord Jesus to learn more. Then went and found his brother Simon Peter, and said, “We have found the Messiah!” (Jn. 1:40-41). Later, Andrew and Peter were summoned to become “fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). Their response was instant obedience to the call (vs. 20).

That is a call to service. And if we are to join the company of the committed, it will require sacrifice, and a life ruled by spiritual and eternal priorities, a life in which lesser things are either forsaken or keep in an inferior place. That’s why Cecil Frances Alexander speaks of being called from “the worship of the vain world’s golden store” (CH-3). She is quite correct in saying that this can become an “idol” (cf. Col. 3:5), just as surely as an image of wood or stone. Anything that exerts such a controlling influence over our lives that the things of God begin to take second place, that has become an idol.

Even born again Christians, if they aren’t careful, can allow things to assume a place in their lives that only the Lord should have. That’s why both Paul and John warn believers against idolatry (I Cor. 10:14; I Jn. 5:21). We cannot be pulled in two directions at once and be effective servants of the Lord. We need to make the kind of clear-cut break described of the Thessalonian Christians, “You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (I Thess. 1:9).

The hymn concludes with a prayer (CH-5): “By Thy mercies, Saviour may we hear Thy call, give our hearts to Thine obedience, serve and love Thee best of all.” Amen!

1) What are some common “idols” today? Is it possible for the lives of Christians to be influenced or controlled by these beyond what is proper?

2) The Bible warns, “Keep yourselves from idols” (I Jn. 5:21). What are some practical ways to protect ourselves from such a danger?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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