Who Is “Called”?
ARE only certain people “called” by God (1 Samuel 3:20)? The issue of “calling” tends to be confusing today. Sometimes people talk about their day-to-day work as if that alone were their callings. “I’m John. I’m a chemist,” or, “I’m Jane. I sell real estate.” Others believe that occupations such as the pastorate or missionary work are true “callings.” Pigeon-holing ourselves like this falls short what the Bible means by “calling.”
A Task Set by God
The Reformation leader Martin Luther had a phrase that helps correct insufficient views of “calling.” He said that a person’s entire life was a “task set by God.” In whatever we do—work or play, eating or sleeping, worshiping or relaxing—we have a responsibility to honor God, for He is Lord of all of life. From a biblical point of view, “calling” describes all of the responsibilities of all believers to serve God with all of their lives:
- Every believer is called to belong to God. Paul indicated to the Christians at Rome that both he and they had the same calling (Romans 1:1, 6). Likewise, he wrote to the believers in Ephesus that just as there is one Spirit and one body (that is, the church), “you were called in one hope of your calling” (Ephesians 4:4).
- Every believer is called a child of God. In His love, God brings us into His family (1 John 3:1), through faith in Christ Jesus.
- Every believer is called to accept the work of Christ on our behalf. Though we are sinners deserving of judgment, Christ’s death on the Cross has “justified” us, made us able to stand and receive His salvation and grace (Romans 8:28–30; 2 Timothy 1:9). For this we have every reason to live lives of gratitude (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
- Every believer is called to become like Christ. Living the life God calls us to involves change in which we take on the character of Christ. That means resisting the temptation to turn away from Him, even though we are encouraged to do so (Galatians 1:6–9). It involves fleeing evil and pursuing good, fighting to maintain faithfulness (1 Timothy 6:11-12). Just as Christ is holy, so we are to become holy in everything we do (1 Peter 1:15; 3:9). As we become Christlike, we can do so with the certainty that the Lord is helping us, equipping us for every good work (Philippians 2:12-13; 2 Peter 1:3–10).
- Every believer is called to serve God and other people. Christ has called us to Himself to live out our faith in a manner that is worthy of Him (Ephesians 4:1–4). We have the privilege of declaring God’s work through everything we do and say (1 Peter 2:9-10, 21).
Every believer is called to become a citizen of God’s Holy Kingdom. The Christian life leads ultimately to the end of being “glorified,” raised up to stand with Christ in eternal glory, pure and holy at last (1 Peter 5:10; 2 Peter 3:10-11). In that day, we will celebrate the final coming together of Christ and all His faithful ones (Revelation 19:9-10). Our obedience to the Lord right now confirms this ultimate calling (Matthew 5:19).
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