I see a growing trend happening in the body of Christ that I pray can be reversed. Well, what is it? It is the loss of a sense of calling. Obviously this is not a universal problem, but it is a growing problem that I am encountering more and more.
I have memories of my childhood where people and the “church” spoke of calling. People would say things like, “God has called me to be a pastor” or “God has called me to be a missionary”. Pastors and evangelists would ask questions like, “what has God called you to be?” and “what has God called you to do”.
I don’t hear this type of language much anymore. And to be transparent, I don’t hear it from the people that I would think I would hear it from. I don’t hear it from some people in the ministry, and I don’t hear it from people seeking the will of God in their lives.
So here is the crux of the problem. If you don’t have a sense of the calling of God in your life, then the big decisions in life are ultimately made along pragmatic lines and are not made along the lines of calling. Decisions are made based more on what makes sense and less on the basis of God’s call on a persons life. To follow and obey the call of God on your life involves sacrifice and for some tremendous sacrifice. Abraham had to leave his country and his people. Moses had to leave a quiet obscure life and come out of hiding from the backside of the desert to the center of the world.
Christian men and women today who hear and respond to God’s call must leave jobs, homes, careers, geographical locations, family and comforts to prepare for and to live out the call of God.
The whole concept of the call of God centers on hearing God’s still small voice speak to you concerning what He wants you to be and what He is calling you to do. Hearing and understanding this call is critical for the Christian. One of the greatest examples of God’s call in the Bible is the calling of the apostle Paul. Paul, Saul at the time of his call, was heading in the opposite direction of God’s call for his life, and then he had an encounter with Jesus Christ. Jesus spoke to him, saved him and called him all in one fell swoop.
Jesus called Paul to be an apostle to the Gentiles. Now understanding God’s call is linked to how God has made you, gifted you and positioned you. Paul was concerning the law of God a Pharisee. So that made him qualified to unlock the mystery of the gospel because of his training in the Word. He was also a Roman citizen, which positioned him to reach the citizens of the Roman Empire. Paul was a man perfectly made, gifted and positioned to be the apostle to the Gentiles.
And then one last thing, he was prepared by the Holy Spirit in the desert of Arabia. Paul tells us in his letter to the Galatians that he spent years in the desert conferring with and receiving from the Holy Spirit the message of the gospel, the mystery that he uncovered from Old Testament.
So having been saved and called by God to be the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul had been made, gifted, positioned and prepared to obey and fulfill God’s call. The storyline of the book of Acts is Paul obeying God’s call on his life. In his 2nd letter to the church at Corinth, Paul actually details the cost, the price he personally paid in obeying God’s call.
Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? - II Corinthians 11:23-29
And even though Paul went through all of these things and more he could still write in the salutation to many of his letters, “Paul an apostle by the will of God.” (Romans 1:1) Paul knew what God had called him to, so doing anything else was either out of the question or a means to obey God’s call. When Paul was a tentmaker, he didn’t go around bragging about how he was a tentmaker. It was a means to the end of obeying God’s call. In fact, this is the whole reason we have the euphemism of “tent-making”. Tent-making was what Paul did for a season so that he could fulfill his calling. Paul didn’t go around talking about his tent-making only to the extent of letting us know what he did for provision so he could do his work as an apostle. And he certainly didn’t allow his tent-making to get in the way of him being an apostle.
At the end of Paul’s life he was able to say this: “ I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (II Timothy 4:7) This should be the desire of every Christian believer. And I believe that knowing, understanding and obeying God’s call is a big part of that.
So let me ask you a question that maybe no one has ever asked you before: What is your calling? Do you know? If not, find out! And one last question: What are you doing about your call? Are you preparing? Are you obeying?
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Charles Nestor II