Word Magazine April 1971 Page 13/14
THE CALLING OF GOD
By The Late Fr. Michael Baroudy
The high calling of God and its implication to humanity is the theme of this article. No one has ever been satisfied with life without giving thought and meditation to the supreme purpose of living. The desire is present in each of us to be somebody, to attain to some degree of knowledge, to gain fame, prestige and respectability. Unless a person has grappled with some great and ennobling ideas, unless he is ambitious to make progress in life, he will always remain on a common level and will never amount to very much. The greatest discoveries men have ever made were due to their restless, unsatisfied outlook on life, to rediscover themselves, to realize their possibilities, to always look ahead and march onward. The progress that men have made, and their achievements were tremendous, was due to the foresightedness of those who had vision of life’s great potentialities and worked hard enough toward their realization and fulfillment.
We have said that our subject is the high calling of God and its implication to humanity. This subject occupies a large area of thought because it has to do with the supreme purpose of living. It is the theme of the Holy Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation, as a matter of fact, it was also the theme of Christ’s mission into the world. “I came,” said Jesus, “to seek and to save the lost. I came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.” In other words, his life, his death, resurrection and ascension were for no other reason than that it might be possible for human beings to lead well-rounded, full-orbited lives. On the strength of this fact, God calls people to Him saying to us one and all, “This is my beloved Son, hear ye him, follow him.”
The high calling of God takes into consideration three major principles, three great factors. First, a vision of God, a right concept of Him as revealed in Christ. Human beings can never attain any appreciable degree of wisdom, can never become what God intended them to be, without a fairly clear knowledge of God as Redeemer, Preserver, Creator, and that holiness, purity and truth are some of the essentials of His nature. Intelligent worship of God depends on an intelligent concept of Him, and that in turn depends on man’s willingness to surrender, without reservation to His blessed will, to seek by prayer, by proper demeanor, by unquestioning obedience and self-denial to do only and always the things that would be pleasing to God. Many people try to bribe God, to appease Him in various ways—gifts, sacrifices, and what have you, but all is of no avail, of no consequence unless one comes to the place where he accords God the right of way in his life leading a pure life, holy life, seeking with all his might and main to make the will of God the will of men.
Second, the high calling of God requires a sense of need to Him. Man will never outgrow the need to God, never, no matter whether pauper or prince, rich or poor. There is nothing which enriches a person’s life, nothing makes him wiser, better, holier and adjusted to life’s demands as a sense of need to the Almighty. The reason for so much misery, unhappiness, friction in all our human relationships, broken hearts and homes, is because no sense of need to God is felt. People are so hardened by the presence of so much worldliness, immorality, low desires and unholy passions that God’s image and His stature has been pushed out of sight. Poverty of souls is written upon the faces of a great number of people, professing Christians, mind you, so that it is not deemed necessary to come to His house on Sunday, and some who do come manifest no great interest in the service. Many come to God’s house who are there in the body only, their minds are on the gods they worship every day in the week.
The greatest challenge which daily faces each individual is, “What are you doing to fulfill the purpose for which you were created?” Has God actually penetrated your personality or has He been crowded out of your heart because you have outgrown the need to Him? Religion at its best and highest aspects is partnership, fellowship with the Eternal Spirit, but that depends on whether the individual desires such partnership and fellowship. Has it ever occurred to you that our lives on this planet are limited, and that each of us must answer the call? Has it ever struck you that the kind of life you are leading cannot stand the test and an improvement is overdue?
Have you felt the pressing need of turning a new leaf and asked yourself the honest question, “What shall I do to be saved?” None but a fool would trifle with a matter of supreme importance and thus leave this world unprepared to meet God.
Third and last, the calling of God takes into account and consideration a sense of service to human needs.
When purged of sin and self we come before His presence, we should catch at long last the glimpse of the vision glorious, the need of the world and how we can help to meet it and right here begin the deepest fellowship with God that man can know. Here is where we begin to see that every place where there is human need, there God is.
The man down the street lonely, friendless, displaced by war; that’s God asking for a bit of kindness in those pleading eyes. The youth who asks only a chance to educate himself, to do his bit, the one who has two strikes against him because of his race. That’s God who asking for an even break. The girl who has been a fool and now sustains a broken life, a besmirched reputation, God is back of that defiance, in the tearful, hidden longing for forgiveness, for another chance at happiness. These people are our responsibility, all of them and insofar as we understand and help them we are serving our God, a God who isn’t satisfied with the purest person on earth until that person sees the need round about him and consecrates his life to meeting it.
The supreme need of the hour is to people, men and women, who would rededicate their lives to the service of humanity. We are living now in the most critical hour in human history, critical because the consensus of opinion, the type of thinking of our world leaders is centered on how quickly one can destroy an enemy. The emphasis today is not how to save lives, not how to live peaceably with other nations, but the emphasis is on brutal, destructive forces one can muster when the alarm is sounded.
The greatest weakness of men is in believing that physical force offers the only solution to our problems. History contradicts that erroneous belief. Wars have been fought on this basis only to discover, after the conflict was over that nothing has been solved, rather differences have been intensified. Physical force has been tried repeatedly throughout the centuries only to discover that it is impractical insofar as solving our human problems is concerned. Our survival depends therefore, on the use of moral forces which heretofore have been utterly neglected.
The Christian Church is confronted today with a tremendous challenge. We, as the mystical body of Christ, have wantonly neglected to infuse public opinion and influence the world by the indoctrination of peaceful means and methods. The sword of the spirit, which is the word of the living God, has not been unsheathed in the interest of peace. I believe, without any fear of contradiction, that if the more than eight hundred million Christians throughout the world will rededicate their lives, means and methods to secure lasting peace, we will have peace in our time. But dedication to a worthy undertaking of such character requires, not conformity in the Christian ranks but unity, unity in the sense that we stress less denominational differences and emphasize the redeeming power of God by being obedient to the principles promulgated by the Prince of Peace who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.”
The tragedy of our time, and of all time, has been and is the disunity which stems from the uncharitable attitude of some groups toward other groups. There are those whose literalism and perfectionism drive them to find fault with other people’s mode of baptism and of worship, forgetting to consider that “the letter killeth but the spirit makes alive.”
Christ breathed in the Upper Room and upon the cross, peace, His peace upon His disciples and through them upon the world. The salient point, the keyword in His marvelous prayer in the Upper Room was unity. Listen: “That they all may be one, as thou Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”