Call and Response

Devotional by Alex Nicholson:

In music, there is a concept commonly called, “call and response”. One phrase of a melody will ask a question, followed by a brief pause, then another piece of melody will answer the question.

This is known in the idiosyncratic terms of music theorists as antecedent and consequent phrases, and they work to offer moments of resolution and completion as these melodic phrases string together to create musical sentences.

In a hymn, we use these structures of music designed by God as the backdrop to a beautiful expression of God’s truth, and in “Come Ye Sinners”, God’s truth is on full display. Greater than that, we learn something about the reciprocation required in our walks with Christ. Notice the dichotomy between the first verse and the chorus. Verse 1 reads:

Come ye sinners, poor and needy

Weak and wounded, sick and sore

Jesus ready stands to save you

Full of pity, love, and pow’r

God is offering a hand of invitation to all of us here. His arms are open for you to come to Him, and oh, how far we tend to wander. But His love is everlasting and stands ready to save us at all points in time. We become weary, despondent, and hopeless at the realization of our own sin against a holy God, deserving of just wrath, but God’s hand remains outstretched to us, beckoning us home. This is His call.

The chorus reads:

I will arise and go to Jesus

He will embrace me in His arms

In the arms of my dear savior

Oh there are ten thousand charms

In the chorus, we have decided to respond in faith. We have repented and turned from our sins, and somewhere in the heavenly realms, a choir of angels is celebrating! In a state of utter need, Jesus has met and surpassed every expectation, but our answer goes even deeper than that. Our joy is found in merely knowing who He is and having the honor of being in His presence as we have passed through the gate of Christ. This is the response of a believer.

This may start bringing your mind to the unending debate between Calvinists and Arminians, but we won’t go there this morning. Let us instead sit and rest in the joy of knowing that He called us in love and that He gave us sufficient grace to answer that call. As we leave church today singing “Come Ye Sinners”, let us continue answering the call into our week. We take up our crosses daily, consistently repenting and believing with fear, joy, and love for the One who made us. 

I need to hear and practice that so much better myself, but as I’ve walked longer with Him, He has taught me that His faithfulness will never let me go, and I praise Him for it. The blood of Christ has provided an eternal washing that cannot be undone, and for so great a salvation, I will press on by His mercy. There are more imminent trials on the horizon for us as the Body of Christ, but no matter how broken and weary we may be, whether over our own sin or over the suffering in this world, He will continue to call sinners home, so let us not delay in answering the call, running endlessly to His sweet embrace, and let us run together in harmony.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:7-8‬ ‭ESV‬

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