Called to Basin Theology

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Called to Basin Theology

1 Samuel 3:1-10; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51

Although the texts we read come from various places in the Bible they have a number of things in common.

For one thing, they each emphasize that God is concerned about his creation, in particular you and me.  There is no aspect of our life that does not matter to God.  God loves the world and every person is precious in his sight. 

Not only is God concerned about his creation, he interacts with it.  Our God is not withdrawn from his people but is involved with them.  

God’s love and concern for his creation leads God to call people to help fulfill his purposes in the world.  In fact, when we identify ourselves as “Christians” it is one way of saying that we have heard and responded to this call of God.

In 1 Samuel 3, we read of how God called the young Samuel while he was sleeping near the holy altar.  Can you think of a better place to be?

In the passage from the Gospel John 1, Jesus extended a call to Philip and his friend Nathaniel.

Shortly afterwards, Jesus would call each of the apostles.

Jesus’ call did not stop here.  It continued to those who became the early church and continued down through the centuries until it was issued to you and me.

You have been called.  (Turn to your neighbor and say…. You’ve been called) For your see, that is what our God does.  He is in the calling business. 

(Turn to your neighbor and say, “I’ve been called.” 

Having heard God’s call, does this mean that we must now go and find a seminary and, as the old timers used to say, “go to preaching?”

Are we now required to leave our homes and families and travel to some distant, forgotten part of the world and pass out gospel tracts and eventually die of jungle fever?

Indeed, responding to God’s call may lead us to do some things we had not counted on but this is not at the heart of what it means to be called by God.

Well then, what does it mean to be “called?”

In John 1:43 we are told that as Jesus was preparing to leave Galilee he found Philip and said to him, “Come. Follow me.”  Eventually Philip and Nathaniel and Peter and Andrew and all the other disciples would accept Jesus’ call and would “follow.”  When God calls us, it is an invitation to becomes “followers” of Jesus.


In his book None of These Diseases, S.I. McMillen tells a story of a young woman who desperately wanted to go to a particular college.  When the application for admission arrived, her heart sank when she read one unexpected question.  The form asked quite directly, "Are you a leader?"

She struggled with this question for some time but being both honest and conscientious, she finally wrote, "No," and returned the application, expecting the worst. To her surprise, she received this letter from the college: "Dear Applicant: A study of the application forms reveals that this year our college will have 1,452 new leaders. We are accepting you because we feel it is imperative that they have at least one follower."[i]

When it comes to being a Christian, there is but one leader and his name is Jesus.  When we respond to his call it means that we follow him; making him our Lord, our savior, our mentor, our guide; our teacher.

But the call of God does not stop here.

This call to “come and follow” carries with it an invitation “to become like Jesus.”  We are called to a life of servant ministry.”

We see this in the life of the young Samuel.  In the very first verse of 1 Samuel 3, we are introduced to Samuel with the words:  Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli.”

He was being a servant to God and someone else was giving him direction.

Three times God called out to Samuel and when Samuel finally realized who it was speaking to him he responded with the words:  Speak Lord, for your servant is listening. 

God’s call to Samuel was to serve God right were he was.  Latter he would go to other places.  He would anoint future kings but at that particular moment his call was to serve God where he was and through the work he was already doing.  Let us not over glamorize what he was doing.  He was a servant boy who ran errands for an old, overweight, blind priest.

When we realize that we are called by God not only to follow Jesus but to serve others it will have an effect on what we do everyday in our job.  It will influence how we interact and treat our co-workers and customers.  It was help us to know how to treat those persons who work for us.  Recognizing that we have been called to serve will guide us in what we do at school and how we treat our fellow students.

One day a pastor was having a conversation with a member of his congregation when the parishioner said, “You preachers talk allot about ‘do unto others,” but when you get right down to it, it comes down to basin theology.”

The pastor asked, “Basin theology?  What’s that?”

The layman said, “Remember what Pilate did when he had the chance to acquit Jesus?  He called for a basin and washed his hands of the whole thing.  But Jesus, the night before His death, called for a basin and proceeded to wash the feet of the disciples.  It all comes down to basin theology.”[ii]  I wonder which basin you and I use most often?

I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord,

   Real service is what I desire.

I’ll sing You a solo any time, dear Lord,

   Just don’t ask me to sing in the choir.

I’ll do what you want me to do, dear Lord,

   I like to see things come to pass.

But don’t ask me to teach boys and girls, O Lord,

   I’d rather just stay in my class.

I’ll do what you want me to do, dear Lord,

   I yearn for Thy kingdom to thrive.

I’ll give you my nickels and dimes, dear Lord,

   But please don’t ask me to tithe.

I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord,

   I’ll say what you want me to say;

I’m busy just now with myself, dear Lord,

   I’ll help you some other day.[iii]

As Christians we have been called to follow and to serve.  Again, God’s calling does not stop here.  God’s call extends into the most personal and private aspects of our life.  When God called Samuel, what was he doing?  He was asleep.  God roused him from a night of slumber.  It could be argued the most vulnerable moments of our lives are when we are asleep.  Have you ever had someone take a picture of you when you were sleeping.  It’s not something we would like to see posted on the internet.

When Jesus called Nathaniel he told him that he had seen him under the fig tree.  What was significant about that?  Fig trees in the holy land were often planted next to a house and it long arching branches formed and additional room that was used for prayer and mediation.  Jesus had entered into a very private part of Nathaniel’s life.  When God calls us, he longs to enter those private intimate areas of our life. 

Let’s be honest, Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 6 are dealing with some pretty personal things.  He talks about the things we eat and even wanders into our sex life. 

Listen to Paul’s words again:  vv.13-20

You cannot get much more personal than that can you.  You see, God’s call is a call to follow, to serve, and to a life of holiness.  Paul’s would cringe at the common adage today, “it’s my body, I can do with it as I like.”  Paul in saying this is not true!  When we abuse our bodies we are desecrating the temple of God.  When we have sex with persons we are not supposed to have sex with we sin against ourselves, our spouse (or future spouse), against the person we are having sex with, against the holy spirit and against God! 

Holiness is not a word most of us like to hear.  The very word:  holiness, sounds scary.  Our tendency is to say that holiness is something for the cloistered halls of a monastery.  It needs organ music, long prayers, and religious-sounding chants.[iv]  In his book, The Fight, John White offers a list of images that came to his mind when he thought about holiness:  thinness, hollow-eyed gauntness, beards, sandals, long robes, stone cells, no sex, no jokes, frequent cold baths, fasting, hours of prayer, getting up at 4 a.m., self-humiliation.[v]  Is that the mental picture you have when you think of holiness?  Most do, but these images are far from what God call us to when he calls us to a life of holiness. 

What is holiness?  Someone defined it this way:  Holiness consists in thinking as God thinks and willing as God wills.[vi]  Holiness is about putting God first in our lives and making choices based upon that truth.  This is not always easy especially when, quote...”everyone is doing it” and when every nerve sensor in our body is screaming out, “oh but it will feel so good!”   Perhaps this is why Jesus referred to following him as “taking up your cross and following me.”

God’s calling is a call to holy living, to holiness.  Chuck Colson said it well in his book Loving God when he wrote:  Holiness is the everyday business of every Christian.  It evidences itself in the decisions we make and things we do, hour by hour, day by day.”[vii]

We have been called!  Called to follow.  Called to serve.  Called to holy living.  Have you answered the call?  Someone has describe the call as a sense of realizing, “Hey, this is what I must do, this is what I’ve got to have.  This is who I am.”  Do you sense this call in your heart right now?  If so, listen to it and respond.

Responding to the call does not mean we are perfect or will always make the right choices especially in the area of holy living.  In fact the probabilities are we will at some point in our life we will fail; perhaps many times.  Samuel did; so did Philip and Nathaniel and Paul.  So have I.   But the power of the Gospel is that Jesus does not give up on us.  The same Jesus who conquered death has the power to forgive us and help us do better in the future.

Jesus is pleading, O hear now His voice--

Hear him today, hear him today;

They who believe on his name shall rejoice--

Quickly arise and away.

Calling today, calling today, Jesus is calling, Is tenderly calling today.[viii]


[i]S.I. McMillen, None of These Diseases.

[ii]Craig Larson, Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching from Leadership Journal.

[iii]Author unknown, quoted in Croft M. Pentz, Speaker’s Treasury of 400 Quotable Poems.

[iv]Charles Swindoll, Tale of the Oxcart, “Holiness,” p. 268

[v]Ibid, 269.

[vi]John Brown, Expository Discourses on 1 Peter.

[vii]Charles Colson, Loving God.

[viii]Jesus is Calling, Fanny J. Crosby.

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