Monday, February 17, 2014

Is Anybody Listening?

Every now and again, I get that feeling that I'm wasting my time.

These blog articles?  Few people ever post or email me comments.  As far as I know, no one has ever accepted Christ as his or her Savior based on my presentation of the Word in this space. 

The folded tracts I leave on door after door every Thursday morning?  Few people ever come to our church and mention those orange, Scripture-filled papers.  And again, I know of no one who has been saved by my labors.

The ESL students I teach once a week?  Last week, we got hung up on the word dessert.  With such a language barrier, how can I ever successfully communicate the gospel to these people?

In these areas of my life, I feel like I'm shouting with my everything; yet, all around me, everyone is tuned out, quite literally.  In the parking lot, on the street, in the elevator, in the mall--a sea of ears plugged with headphones successfully seal out the world, incubating these individual islands from contact and relationship.

This past week, I was brought back to the prophet Isaiah's calling.

In his infamous vision of God enthroned, Isaiah heard the Lord ask, "'Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?'" (Is. 6:8).  Here, the "Us" demonstrates that whoever answered this call to be sent would do so on behalf of the triune God--the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

Isaiah chose to respond to this call, at which time the Lord described his calling further: "Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’ Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull,And their eyes dim" (Is. 6:9-10).

From these three verses, we see Isaiah being required to do two things--go and tell.  Yet, even before Isaiah takes one step or speaks one word in obedience to his calling, God warns him that no one will listen.  And those who do listen will not understand because their hearts are not tender to God.  His efforts will have no success as men understand that term.

Isaiah's response is understandable as he asks, "'Lord, how long?'" (v. 11a).  How long must I speak to these people who do not hear, who do not listen.  How long?

The Lord responds, "Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people And the land is utterly desolate" (v. 11b).

Isaiah was being told to preach until the walls came down, until the cities were no more...until there was no one left to hear his words.  In short, as long as there was one person left in the land, his job wasn't finished.

Compare Isaiah's calling to Christ's commissioning (or "calling") of His disciples at the end of Matthew: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19-20).

Just like with Isaiah, the disciples (and, thus, we, as Christ's disciples of today) were called to go and tell, a calling that was empowered after Jesus' death when on the Day of Pentecost He said, "you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth" (Acts 1:8).  While Isaiah was merely sent to Israel, Christ opened this calling to all the nations.  Likewise, unlike Isaiah, our calling this side of the cross is a bit different in that it also includes making disciples and baptizing.  Still, though, the essential command is much the same, just a broader target audience.

Here, as well, is mention of the "who" behind our calling--the trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We, too, go on behalf of God in all three persons.

And lastly, just as with Isaiah, we are also called to go and tell "to the end of the age"--until the whole world hears.  Until there is not one person left.

What is interesting is that in this calling of His disciples, Jesus doesn't add a "but they won't listen to you" warning as Isaiah received, even though such warnings are found elsewhere in the New Testament.  Still, the two callings are so similar that one cannot help but understand that if the prophet Isaiah preached the Word of God and no one would listen, the same will be true of us as well.

It is discouraging to sow and not reap.  In one way, it keeps us humble and reminds us that we save no one; that is the Spirit's job to convict.  Yet, still, it can be discouraging in our results-driven society.

No matter what, though, we must believe in our calling--to go, to continue to sow the Word of God--even if no one listens--until the cities are devastated and there is no one left. 

This is our responsibility.  This is our calling as children of the Most High God.

1 comment:

  1. I so agree, as long as we are faithful to His word, it is not for us to see results. We are to plant the seed and let God deal with the heart.