My father was not a Christian. He was involved in what was called, the “New Age Movement,” and actively practiced astrology and transcendental meditation, and even valued crystals for their “healing properties.” The last time I visited with my father in his own home, I was 18 or 19. When he came to his apartment door, he said that he was not interested in a long visit. He told me that he was fasting and meditating in order to spiritually prepare himself for an encounter with God.
Throughout history, people have been doing their best to experience God by isolating themselves from friends and family, and inflicting pain on themselves and other hardships in desperate attempts to connect with God. Ezekiel offers a different perspective. God comes looking for Ezekiel and reveals Himself to him.
In vision, God gives Ezekiel a call to missions. But he is not called to evangelize some people in a remote village in a foreign land. He doesn’t need to go to language school or learn the culture of his target audience because he is sent by God to evangelize his own people, the “sons of Israel.”
Evangelizing your own friends and family can be challenging, but God’s call to Ezekiel is even more difficult. In this call, God shares with Ezekiel that despite his best efforts to win them over, Israel will not listen to the message.
Why would God ask Ezekiel to do something, to evangelize his people, if it’s impossible? I think there are a few observations that we can draw. First, in Ezekiel’s case, God seems more concerned with Ezekiel’s obedience to the call. God desires His people to be faithful in sharing their faith regardless of the results. Second, the success of evangelism is not up to us. Some of the best sermons fall on deaf ears and unresponsive hearts, and some of the worst messages produce the most conversions. The presence and power of God through His Spirit makes the difference.
Effective evangelism is God’s job; He is not limited by our weaknesses. This is great news and it is incredibly humbling news. It’s humbling because even if you are the most effective communicator and a master of every evangelism skill, without God’s Spirit you will not be successful in reaching the lost.
Our call from God is not much different today from Ezekiel’s day. Our response should also be the same—obedience and submission to God. He will come to you and He will make all the difference. This is great news! Isn’t it? Amen.
Dr. Eric Bates, Pastor
Gulf States Conference