What does it mean to be called? “Come, follow me,” calls Jesus. “If we listen very carefully, really carefully,” says writer Ryan J. Pemberton, “our stomachs turn a somersault and our hearts skip a beat. Because though he does not stop to tell us where he is leading, we know where he is going. He is going to the cross. And he tells us to drop our nets and follow” (from Called: My Journey to C.S. Lewis’ House and Back Again).
Scripture is full of references to our calling. Romans 8:28 says that we are “called according to his purpose.” Romans 11:29 links our gifts to our calling, and then reminds us that our “calling” is inevitable. Paul urges us to “consider our calling” (1 Cor. 1:26 ESV) and Galatians 2: 6-10 (MSG) says, “My calling was given to me by God.” 2 Timothy 1: 9 (ESV) states that God “saved us and called us to a holy calling . . . because of his own purpose and grace.” The writer of Hebrews tells that we are partners sharing a heavenly calling (Heb. 3:1) and that we must take steps to become what God calls us to be (Heb. 12). In 1 Thessalonians 3: 3-5, Paul reminds us that troubles are part of our calling and should not surprise us.
Peter (who dropped his nets and his life when Jesus called) puts it plainly: “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted” (I Peter 2:9-10 MSG).
Richard Roher agrees: “God is simply looking for images! God wants images of God to walk around the earth…. God wants usable instruments who will carry the mystery, who can bear the darkness and the light, who can hold the paradox of incarnation—flesh and spirit, human and divine, joy and suffering, at the same time, just as Jesus did.” (Things Hidden)
Our primary call is to live as God’s instrument in the Kingdom of God. That requires training. Peter and the other disciples lived with Jesus for three years for their training; the Spirit of Jesus lives within us for a lifetime. Becoming like Jesus is not always an easy task. Neither is sharing that experience with those God brings into our sphere of influence. But it is a task we have been chosen to do.
From Scripture we can see that each of us also has a specific calling depending on how God has gifted us and what particular job God has for us. We will look at that more closely in future occasional blogs in this series.
Calling image by journeyfranklin.org; quote image by pinterest.com