“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) “Jesus Calls Us” (Tom Edwards)
“Jesus Calls Us”
Written in 1852 by Cecil Frances Alexander, “Jesus Calls Us” is a comforting hymn with a drawing affect upon the humble, contrite, and sincere heart of a true believer. For he knows that Jesus is greatly concerned; and for whatever the troubles of life, He is the One to whom we should turn and to whom we can cast all our cares and anxieties upon “because He cares” for us (1 Pet. 5:8). The greatest problem of all, of course, is sin. But whatever our distress, “Jesus calls us o’er the tumult of our life’s wild, restless sea; day by day his sweet voice soundeth, saying, ‘Christian, follow me!’” (the first stanza).
According to Daniel Webster, a tumult can be not only that which is external, such as the “violent and noisy commotion or disturbance of a crowd or mob; uproar,” but also that which is internal, as a “turbulent mental or emotional disturbance.” But for either kind, Jesus can help us through! For He can give rest to the weary and heavy-laden (Matt. 11:28-30). He can give peace to the troubled and fearful (Jn. 14:27; Luke 12:32). And He can relieve us of our cares and anxieties (1 Pet. 5:7). Though the state of the sinner is sometimes compared to an agitated sea (Isa. 57:20, 21), yet there can be sweet rest for those who come to the Lord — and Jesus calls all of us to do so!
The second stanza tells us that “Jesus calls us from the worship of the vain world’s golden store, from each idol that would keep us, saying, ‘Christian, love me more!’”
Here we see that the Christian is urged to put Christ above all worldly things. Even in the family relationship, where the head of the family is concerned of meeting the physical needs of his loved ones, his ultimate concern should still be for their spiritual well-being. And though he loves his family, yet his love for them is increased by his having even more of a love for God.
To be called “from the worship of the vain world’s golden store” sounds likes something Solomon would have written, who had experienced so much of what he later referred to as vain things in life. For he had enlarged his works, “built houses for himself,” “planted vineyards,” “made gardens and parks… [and] planted in them all kinds of fruit trees,” “made ponds…to irrigate a forest of growing trees,” had “both male and female slaves” and also “possessed flocks and herds larger than all who preceded” him in Jerusalem. He “collected…silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces.” He provided for himself “male and female singers and the pleasures of men – many concubines.” He “became great and increased more than all who preceded” him in Jerusalem. He said, “All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure… Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun” (Eccl. 2:4-11). And as he also declares, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity” (Eccl. 5:10).
This is really the main message of the book of Ecclesiastes that all is actually vanity without God in one’s life. We were not made to go through this life without Him. Some have viewed this book as containing Solomon’s confession of his wrongs and his urging and instructing others to how they should really live, which he then brings to their attention in the very last two verses of this book, where he declares, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Eccl. 12:13, 14).
In the New Testament, we are also directed toward the heavenly rather than just getting lost in the worldly. As Paul writes, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind [affections in the KJV] on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1-3).
As the hymn also shows, Jesus has called us “…from each idol that would keep us.” How foolish for one to be kept in bondage by a lifeless thing that can do nothing for that individual (cf. Isa. 57:13; Ezek. 14:2-6). God states that His people were “estranged” from Him because of their idols, which indicates they were “turned away in feeling or affection.” Note specifically the place where the Lord shows these idols had resided. They were not merely on a mantle, or on a table, or set on some other piece of furniture; but, rather, the Lord went to the real core of the problem by pointing out in Ezekiel 14:3 that their idols were set up “in their hearts”! And though these idols were lifeless, powerless things, yet what great damage they could do to the worshiper of them! For idolatry was a violation of one of the Ten Commandments, and sin will separate a person from God (cf. Isa.59:1,2). The Thessalonians, however, were commended for their turning to God from idolatry (1 Thess. 1:9), which was a wise move on their part. They would not let those idols “keep” them.
We must remember that though it would probably be rare to find people in America today literally setting up idols to worship, yet even greed (or covetousness) is equated with idolatry (cf, Col. 3:5; Eph. 5:5). And it is one of the reasons why “the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience” (Col. 3:6). Greed, therefore, is a serious matter – but often not recognized. La Salle, for example, has been noted as being one of the most popular priests during the Middle Ages who heard tens of thousands of people’s confessions, over the years. And he once said that out of that great number, not once did he ever hear anyone admit to being guilty of having the love of money. Could it be that greed can be deceptive? Unrecognizable at times? And how tragic — for what a deadly enemy greed can be! An Associated Press article once published a story about a ragged peddler who had been found dead in his apartment. The day before his death, the peddler had told a friend that he didn’t even have $5 to pay a debt; but when he was found dead the next day among the littered filth in his apartment, it was also discovered that he had $61,000 in bonds and currency – and this was long ago, when that amount would have had much greater value than today! He was only 48 years old, but the report ironically stated that he died of malnutrition. Was it greed that had become such a cruel master that it made him deprive himself of even the needed food for his body? Was he caught in greed’s terrible snare?
The third stanza then sings out, “In our joys and in our sorrows, days of toil and hours of ease, still he calls, in cares and pleasures, ‘Christian, love me more than these!’”
Whether we are happy or sad, been working hard or taking it easy, still Christ is to be put above all else. His kingdom must be sought after first (cf. Matt. 6:33). Surely, Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to “be ready in season and out of season” (2 Tim. 4:2) applies in principle to us as well. The International Standard Version renders that as “Be ready to do this whether or not the time is convenient.” And whether in joy or sorrow, Christ needs to always be exalted on the throne of our heart, so that, according to 1 Peter 3:15, we can “always be ready” to make a defense of the hope that is within us to anyone.
The last stanza declares, “Jesus calls us! By thy mercies, Savior, may we hear thy call, give our hearts to thine obedience, serve and love thee best of all.”
It’s interesting that these two words are coupled: “serve” and “love.” Of course, one can’t truly serve the Lord if one doesn’t love Him; nor can one truly love the Lord, if one doesn’t obey Him (cf. Jn. 14:23, 24). For there is that need for both. This might also remind you of another pair the Bible puts together, though many people try to pull them apart – and that is faith and works! This has been illustrated as two oars that a man was using to row his boat. The oars were held in u-shaped oarlocks or braces that served as pivot-supports and helped with the rowing. One oar was called “faith,” while the other was called “works.” In neither case, could the rower use just one of those oars and expect to make it to his destination. For to do so, would have him just going in circles. But when he plied with both of them together, he made progress and arrived safely at the shore.
We need to each examine our service to the Lord, not just when we meet together at church, but also in our daily activities. Can we honestly say we love the Lord by the way we live? If we shirk our responsibilities, are we any better off than the one-talent man who buried his talent instead of using it? What was his retribution? “And cast out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 25:30).
May this song, “Jesus Calls Us,” encourage us toward a deeper commitment to Christ — and may it also be a wonderful invitation for those who have not yet come to Him, that they, too, will want to be a follower of the Lord. For what a marvelous thing it is that God would actually call us to Himself that we might each enjoy a relationship with Him – and that for now and for all eternity!
(All Scriptures are from the NASB, unless otherwise indicated.)
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)