Bible Called To Be…

Called To Be…

A guest blog by Shawn Blythe.

As we enter the book of Romans in our Bible readings, I am struck by one of the opening items in Paul’s greeting.  He starts his letter with “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God”.

In particular, I was drawn to Paul’s statement that he was “called” to be an apostle.  Most of us know the story of Paul’s conversion and Christ’s direct intervention on the road to Damascus.  It reminds me of God’s direct interaction with Moses, Samuel and others.  These callings were fairly explicit, obvious and specific.  In Moses’ case it was a clear mission to bring the people of Israel out of Egypt.  In Samuel’s case it was a call to service in replacement of Eli.  In Paul’s case it was to carry the gospel message to the Gentiles.

But what about us?  Most of us have received no direct, explicit message from God regarding our calling.  In fact, if we are like most Biblical characters we may spend a lifetime without such instructions.  So, what is our calling?

I spend time mentoring students at my alma mater and in a particular group session, one of the other mentors said something that resonated with me.  She was responding to a student who was lamenting the lack of clarity with regards to her vocation and calling.  This mentor looked her in the eye and said this: “Don’t let your search for a calling get in the way of your ministry.”  We went on to discuss the life we have been called to lead regardless of our vocation.  Nearly all of us with significant work experience could provide multiple examples of where simply living the life God has asked us to live (e.g. loving others, being generous, forgiving others, praying for others, etc.) have created an impact in those around us that we would not (and perhaps could not) have envisioned.  This is the love we were called to share, and Jesus tells us that by exercising this love, people will know we are Christians (John 13:35).

Ultimately it comes down to who we think we are.   In my case, am I an engineer who happens to be a Christian?  Or am I a Christian who happens to be an engineer.  You can substitute your own vocation and ask yourself the same question.  I think we would all agree it is the second.   As we live our lives and our roles change, the underlying foundation of our Christianity drives our ministry though whatever role we happen to have at a particular point in time (spouse, parent, trade person, manager, caregiver, student, retiree, etc.)

As Christians, we have all been called by God – and set apart as belonging to God.  Paul discusses this later in Romans 8:28-30.  This ministry is no less important or significant than any other Christian vocation.  In the absence of a specific calling, we have been set apart for general service – and this service needs to be our priority.  Responsibility for actively showing Christ’s love to the poor, the lost, our neighbors, and our enemies is not the exclusive responsibility of those with an explicit calling.  It is what all of us who claim the title of Christian were called to do.

I think back to Paul’s introduction.  Perhaps we should all aim to introduce ourselves similarly: “I am a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be a Christian and set apart for the gospel of God.”

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