THE CALL OF GOD
In the summer months I will share some seminal thoughts and authors that have mentored my ministry for 40+ years. Foundational to all of it, of course, is the Word of God, both written and living. I do not worship the written word of God but honor it as the most direct and reliable source that leads one to worship, follow, and give utmost allegiance to the living Word of God, Jesus Christ my Lord (John 5.39). You don’t eat the menu, you eat the entrée. (think about it) A book I have given away countless times is The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life by Os Guinness (no relation to the beverage). A theology of “the call” is elusive and mysterious for some. Consider the following perspective:
“Our primary calling as followers of Christ is by him, to him, and for him. First and foremost we are called to Someone (God), not to something (such as motherhood, politics, or teaching) or to somewhere (such as the inner city or Outer Mongolia).” (p. 31, The Call, emphases added) The Latin word for call is vocare from which we derive the English word vocation. Somewhere along the way (possibly the Industrial Revolution) our vocation began to be defined by what we did, instead of from Whom the call came, to Whom we belonged. Here’s a typical introductory conversation among males: “Hi, my name is xxxxxxxx.” “Ah, and what do you do (for a living)?” We are identified by our company, our skill set, our location (I’m a farmer from Monroe County), but according to the Word our primary identity is derived from the call of God (1 John 4.19).
God calls us primarily to Himself, not to a task or a location. When we are rightly related to Him, what we do, when we do it, and where we do it will fall in line. “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.” (1 Pet. 2.21) His call to His side does not guarantee success, it guarantees eternal life. This verse is in the context of suffering for fulfilling the will of God. The will of God is not a sequence of events (something), but a relationship with Him. Likewise the Kingdom of God is not a location (somewhere), but a relationship with Him. You are first and foremost called to Him. This is why over 50x (depending on your translation) in the NT we find the phrase ‘in Christ’ (2 Cor. 5.17).
Our speech often betrays a hierarchy of calling, as if the lay person in the pew occupies the lowest rung on a ladder of calling that usually goes upward like this: nursery worker, Bible teacher, deacon, pastor, home missionary, foreign missionary. We all have the same primary calling, to His side, and we need to understand our Lord is dynamic, not static. Where He leads us, we follow (John 12.26), period. What we do, where we go, how we get there are all secondary callings that derive from our relationship to the Father. We cannot crow that our calling is higher or better than others, rather we should rejoice that our names are forever attached to our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 1.11).
“Archbishop William Temple underscored this danger sternly. To make the choice of career or profession on selfish grounds, without a true sense of calling, is ‘probably the greatest single sin any young person can commit, for it is the deliberate withdrawal from allegiance to God of the greatest part of time and strength.” (The Call, p. 46) Our calling is from Him, through Him, and to Him (Rom. 11.29-36). “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called (Eph. 4.1). How would you describe your calling from God?