A few weeks ago, we featured a review of the excellent book, Called to Create, by Jordan Raynor. As Christians, and especially as people interested in missional enterprise, we no doubt hear the words “call” and “calling” often. We probably use the words as well. But several questions quickly arise. What do we really mean when we use these words? Are we using the words in a general sense or in a very specific sense? Are all Christians “called,” or do only certain ordained church workers receive a call?
It seems that within the church, the word “calling” can be viewed as a super-spiritual word that applies only to certain church positions. Outside the church, the word can be used very casually to describe a choice we have made as to a job or something that is probably not much more than our personal choice or preference.
When we look to the Scriptures, we see that we serve a God who calls people. We see that God is and always has been calling men and women, first and foremost to Himself, and secondly to a specific position or role of influence in God’s economy. Here are some examples…
- Exodus 3:4 – Moses called at the burning bush . . .
- Luke 19:5 – Zacchaeus called to a life of discipleship . . .
- Acts 9:4 – Saul called to follow Jesus . . .
- John 11:43 – Lazarus called back to life . . .
- Matthew 11:28 – The disciples called to follow Jesus . . .
- Matthew 16:18 – Peter called to follow Jesus . . .
- Jeremiah 29:11 – The Father’s call/promise to Israel . . .
Os Guinness, in his book The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life, says: “There is no calling unless there is a Caller.” Being called is for all believers, not just for a few. Guinness provides the following oft-quoted definition of “calling”:
“Calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service.”
Guinness also elaborates on the fact that all of us actually have two separate calls – a primary calling and a secondary calling.
“Our primary calling as followers of Christ is by him, to him, and for him . . . Our secondary calling, considering who God is as sovereign, is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for him.”
Our primary calling is relational – we are called into a loving relationship with Jesus. A Christian’s primary calling is universal in the sense that the call by Jesus on our lives as Christians is universal for all Christians.
Our secondary calling is behavioral – we are to act in our daily lives and circles of influence, as Jesus would have us act. Our secondary call is personal – it is the outworking of the “who, what, when, and where” of our individual lives, lived as a follower of Jesus.
So, in a nutshell, all of us as Christians are “called.” Calling is not just for a few varsity Christian players. In fact, we all have two callings: we are called to Jesus, and we are called to live in a specific place as Jesus wants us to live.
Stay tuned. In the coming weeks, we will look in more detail at this issue of calling.
who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began . . . 2 Timothy 1:9 (ESV)
Let’s take a few minutes to reflect on the amazing grace of God, demonstrated in his primary calling of us in Christ Jesus!