We made a bad move many years ago. We largely rejected the idea of Calling. It sounded too Baptist. It sounded to denominational. It sounded to Calvinist. It was, like some other things in our theology, the product of reactionary doctrine rather than solid interpretation. It isn’t that I agree with Calvinism but we can embrace words in their fullest biblical sense.
Our theology should never be a game of compare and contrast to determine what is true.
The problem was, not everything the Baptists, denominations, and Calvinists have in common are wrong (as some in our fellowship had presumed). They all believe Jesus is the Son of God. Do we reject that notion?
They also all believe in calling. We should too.
If you don’t believe in calling, I hope this post changes your mind.
Our rejection of calling has left us with a spiritual Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder). We are hyper-confident, hyper-certain, and hyper-unsure and hyper-uncertain all at the same time. It is crazy confusing.
We have been the only ones who have it right AND the ones who really don’t know if we are saved. How confusing is that?
We have made salvation an issue of getting so many things right that it makes one wonder if one can ever be saved in the first place – what if we are wrong on something.
Salvation was never meant to be a matter of getting it all right. Salvation never rested on our shoulders. It rested on Christ’s shoulders.
There is a sad irony that we are trying to be the most biblical and yet we struggle to follow these plain teachings in the New Testament,
“He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” – 1 John 5:12-13
“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. ” – 2 Peter 1:10
We didn’t know we were elect and we certainly didn’t believe we were called much less that we were sure about any of it? You know who we thought were called? The first disciples. Jesus never called us, the theory goes. Jesus called them. But that conclusion many of us reached doesn’t hold water. It doesn’t hold water because the New Testament itself constantly refers to Christians who never met Jesus in their lifetime as “called.” That means we can be called as well – not just “can be called” – we are called!
“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.” – Heb 3:1
“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” – Eph 4:1
“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.” – 2 Thess 1:11
Here we see that Christians are called by God. Every. Single. One of us. It is a heavenly calling. It is one we are supposed to live worthy of (Eph 4:1) but also recognize that without Christ’s help we never will be worthy, we must be “made worthy of the calling” (2 Thess 1:11)
Then there is 1 Peter 2:9,
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. “
If you are a Christian you have been called.
What does this have to do with discipleship?
Recognizing calling is the first step to recognizing that we are disciples, followers, apprentices.
Jesus didn’t just call them. He called us too. We have responded. That makes us disciples because the called very specific. It was to come and follow him.
No more nominal Christianity. No more sitting the fence. No more Christianity as a get out of jail free for hell card. No. It is time to recognize ourselves as the called and take our place as disciples/followers. It is time to be sure of your salvation. It is time to hear the call and follow Jesus. This is what makes our lives meaningful. Don’t walk away. Don’t reject this. Let’s do this…together.
Are you ready?
What has your relationship with the word calling or called been in church?
Do these thoughts bring you any clarity or questions?
I was raised as a Southern Baptist. I left the church in the early 80’s, told myself it was because of the in fighting going on at the time. To be honest, it was really the fact I was 18 and no longer had to answer to my parents.
That being said, it was a very Godly COC family and congregation that drew me back to God at a low point in my life. It took me many years, to become adjusted to the COC manner of conducting “church”. I still have issues from time to time.
I would talk about a calling and always got blank looks from members. It had me confused and still has me confused. I grew up being taught and still believe that God calls people to do particular tasks or things. Not everyone one is called to preach, teach, or lead singing. We are all called to serve God and others. We are all called to share his love. But each of us are called in different ways to use our talents to glorify him. Why is this such a difficult concept? Is it just a manner of semantics?
It is bizarre indeed that we can make such a big deal out of following scriptures while rejecting things that are clearly in the scriptures. I believe the reason was we didn’t want to “sound denominational.” Pure and simple. What a shame.
Usually when I hear the term calling I hear it in relation to “preachers /teachers” having been called into that profession, but as noted here all saints are called and have responded in the call.
It isn’t about being called to do something, but rather being called to be something. Once we are something, we can do anything through Christ.
Very well said Dwight. To be a Christian is to be someone who has responded to the call. I am afraid much of our thinking is too nominal. It is about beliefs we embrace that aren’t tied to action. You believe this and I believe that – this makes you a Hindu or Muslim, etc and me a Christian. To be a Christian is to have been called to follow Jesus and have responded = disciple.
Isaiah 19:11 – “… I am one of the wise men, a disciple of the ancient kings…”
John 6:66 – From this time, many of his disciples turned back, and no longer followed Him
Matthew 22:16 – They sent some of their disciples to him, along with the Herodians…
Acts 11:26 – The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch
Acts 21:16 – Some of the disciples from Caesarea accompanied us…and one of the early disciples
And after that, not another mention of “disciples…” Saints? Yes. brethren? Yes. Stones? Yes. Priests? Yest. workers? Yes. But “disciples” is not used anywhere after Acts 21.
I think the terms like “Saint” etc. make more sense to be used. It shows the same qualities as you have mentioned for “disciple,” including the failings (Compare 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 with 3:1-3).
The terms used in the letters make more sense (to me, anyway). A ‘disciple’ is a word meaning “student.” No more, no less. One can be a “disciple’ of anyone, like the “…ancient kings…,” “Pharisees,” “John the Baptist,” or any other teacher who is widely respected and “followed.”
Words like “Saints” and “Child of God” has a much deeper meaning. An exhortation to be “imitators of God” gives a much greater responsibility.
I like where you are going with this. Saints has more umph than “Christian for sure. I would say that a disciple is a bit more than a student. It is a student who desires to be a practitioner of what the teacher is teaching. In today’s world not all students aspire to do that. Blessings.