The Calling (Not What It Seems)

After the liberal and indifferent use of the word saved, the word calling is probably the biggest cliche in all of Christianity.

People speak of being called, of having a call on their life, of receiving a calling, or saying that so and so was “called by God” or “called of the Lord”. And when such people speak of this, they do so in an almost mythical, mystical (i.e. carnal) way. To hear someone talk about one’s “calling”, you’d think it was something magical, or worse, something worthy of our worship, as if the person called was somehow individually special, unique, or in some way more spiritual, i.e. better.

Now, I’m not knocking the fact that God calls people, or that we as Christians have a calling. But what I’m against is the way we treat the idea, especially the idea of being “called into the ministry” or “called to preach”.

We think the calling empowers us, equips us, qualifies us to some supernatural plain of ability and action, that otherwise wasn’t available to us in the Holy Ghost. As if the calling God gives to His people somehow elevates them to peaks of power and office.

Friend, it’s not so. First, when talking about the word calling, we must realize it’s better understood as an invitation. When God comes calling, it’s His invitation. It’s not some mystical, magical destiny. Rather, it’s God asking you, me, and everyone to participate in what He’s doing in the earth. It can be ignored, put off, or even rejected.

Secondly, as an invitation, the calling is not God’s way of promoting us to new heights and wonders in the Spirit. Rather, it’s simply this: Will we serve? Will we lay down our lives in sacrifice and put others, first God and His Word, then the Church, then the Lost, before ourselves? Because that’s what real ministry is: slavery to the Master.

So the calling isn’t about elevation or being made more important in the Kingdom. It’s about becoming less (think John the Baptist, the greatest prophet after Christ). It’s about putting on a slave’s garment and washing feet. It’s about praying when everyone else is too busy. It’s about fasting through a love feast. It’s about 1:00am phone calls for help. It’s about not conforming to the world’s system of peer pressure, even if it means losing your family, reputation, job/career, or place in the world. And so much more. It’s an invitation to martyrdom (See Psalm 116:15).

Third, we must realize that being invited by God to serve Him as a slave is not unique or special. All humans are called or invited to the same general service. While we all have specific functions in the Body, there isn’t one person called to not sell out while the brother or sister over there has to give all.

When people talk of how they’re called, etc. they usually do so as an outward indication of an inward pride. Being invited by God is no occasion to the flesh. There’s nothing to be proud of. We’re all still sinners saved by grace, undeserving of God’s love and affection. God is still no respecter of persons, no matter how He came calling when He called any one of us.

What’s the point? God faithfully invites everyone. When our ticket came up one day, it didn’t mean ten thousand other saints didn’t get invited that same hour, too. We have to stop thinking our calling makes us special in God’s eyes. We are special because He has desired to make us special, collective so, as His Bride.

But know this: all people are special to God, saved or not. That’s why He sent His only begotten Son to redeem all of humanity, even as many as would respond to the Lord’s call to salvation.

So next time someone starts bragging about their calling, or when you or I feel tempted to do so, just remember, everyone in the church has received the same invitation. Your’s didn’t come on an especially anointed silver platter. Nor did mine. No one’s did. The calling came from a Dread Sovereign Savior who hung and died upon a bloody cross to save us from our sins. A bloody cross we ourselves have been called to bear.


~ by votivesoul on 12/21/2012.

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Mark Showalter's Blog

Always seeking to know God more

Theo-sophical Ruminations

A collage of theological and philosophical musings

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