a) The story of Israel begins with God’s abrupt address to Abraham, an address that is decisive and delivered without any forewarning. Abraham is addressed in an imperative: “Go”; and with this address Abraham’s life is radically displaced. He is caught up in a world of discourse and possibility about which he knew nothing until addressed, a world of discourse and possibility totally saturated with God’s good promises for him and for the world through him (Gen. 12:1). By this call Abraham is propelled into an orbit of reality that totally preempts his life and removes him completely from any purpose or agenda he may have entertained for himself before that moment. Of Abraham’s answer to the address of God we are told very little. The text says only, “So Abram went” (Gen. 12:4). Later, this response is interpreted as a supreme act of faith:
By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, of whom he had been told, “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” He considered the fact that God is able even to raise someone from the dead — and figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. (Heb. 11:17- 19)
(b) This same God also calls Moses by meeting him in the burning bush (Exod. 3:1-6). The call itself consists in three elements:
God calls him by name, “Moses, Moses.” In this address God seizes the initiative in the life of Moses. Moses is known by God from the outset in elemental ways and is called to engage the mystery of God. Moses is warned that he is standing on holy ground. That is, his locus is not what he thought, not simply a place for the struggle for social justice in which he was already engaged, but a zone inhabited by demanding, addressing holiness. The call is an abrupt act that displaces Moses for a world of conflict propelled by God’s holiness. Moses is resituated in the tradition of God’s people, as God recalls God’s identity from the book of Genesis: “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob.” Moses is thereby wrenched away from what he might have thought was the circumstance of his life and decisively relocated in a larger narrative about which he knew nothing until that moment of confrontation.
2. The same God, in the life and in the utterances of Jesus, makes the same claim in the New Testament. In each case the call, an authorizing imperative, is a disruption that sets lives on totally new trajectories that had not previously been in purview. The simple, uninflected imperative is “follow me,” an imperative that sets folk on a new path of obedience, trailing along the path that Jesus himself walked in obedience:
In Mark 1:16-20, immediately upon announcing the nearness of the kingdom (vv. 14- 15), Jesus comes upon the four fishermen who abandon their old life for this new following.
Chilcote, P. W., & Warner, L. C. (Eds.). (2008). The study of evangelism : Exploring a missional practice of the church. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Created from amridge on 2022-10-21 04:02:18.
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In Mark 8:34-38, just after announcing his own death and resurrection (v. 31), Jesus issues a call to the disciples:
If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. (Mark 8:34-35)
Following Jesus leads to Jerusalem, a path that culminates in a cross, a reality that contradicts all the hopes and promises of the world into which Jesus goes, that is, into the world of settled legitimacy and power. In Mark 10:17-22, Jesus offers a call to the man who had kept all the commandments: “Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing: go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me’” (Mark 10:21).
In all these cases, Jesus’ claim upon people’s lives places their lives in crisis; it is the same sovereign claim that is so uncompromising in the narratives of Abraham and Moses.
3. Of course, it is a huge leap from these biblical summonses to our own time, place, and circumstance. Nevertheless, we imagine that the same calling God calls “men and women of all ages, tongues, and races into his church.”1 The call is not to join an institution or to sign a pledge card; it is rather to sign on for a different narrative account of reality, one that is in profound contrast to the dominant account of reality into which we are all summarily inducted.
This God of the gospel calls men and women away from the bad news of the world, away from the dominant, dehumanizing values of commodity and brutality that are all around us. The calling God means for us to disengage from the postures, habits, and assumptions that define the world of power and injustice, so devoid of mercy and compassion in every arena of life. The call is away from ordinary life, ordinary possessions, and ordinary assumptions to a way of life that the world judges to be impossible. Thus the call is, indeed, to an impossibility.