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The Christian's Calling
Thomas R. Fletcher
What is the "call of God?" Is it something experienced only by pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and other full-time Christian workers? Is it possible that the call of God transcends the merely religious and actually encompasses all of life?
I want to look at the way the words "called" and "calling" are used in the New Testament. Called is used both as a verb and an adjective. Used as a verb it refers to God's issuing an invitation to participate in fellowship with him through salvation. God issues that call to all people. Christ died for the sins of the world. All people of the world are invited to partake of the benefits of Christ's sacrifice. God's call is also the summons to discipleship.
Called is also used an adjective to describe those who have positively responded to God's invitation. The term is often used as a synonym for Christians. We see that usage in Romans 8:28; 1 Corinthians 1:24; Jude 1; and Revelation 17:14 to name but four references.
The New Testament also uses the noun form of the word "calling." It can mean either invitation or vocation depending upon the context. It is used to refer to vocation in 1 Corinthians 7:20, "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called (KJV)." All too often we think only of the Christian "professionals" as those who are living out the calling of God in their lives. We create a false dichotomy, dividing our lives into the sacred and the secular, dividing Christians into those with a calling and those without. Bible study and church attendance are sacred, our work is secular, or so goes the common thinking. This verse makes it clear, such is not the case. God's calling transcends the mere religious aspects of life an touches all that we are or do. All of life is sacred and to be lived out for God's glory, and all Christians have a calling from God. Sometimes that calling is to some form of vocational ministry, more often than not, it isn't.
1 Corinthians 7:20 makes it clear we are to serve God where we are. The new Christian is not to walk away from his or her vocation and seek full-time Christian work. Why not? God needs you where you are. Don't seek to become a missionary--you are a missionary to those around you. You touch lives that may never be touched by the Christian professionals. Your vocation brings you into contact with people who may never attend church. They may never hear of Christ, but through you. There is no need to seek full-time Christian service, you are in full-time Christian service--being a witness to those around you. You witness by the good work you turn out and the Christian deportment you maintain. Your vocation has divine significance.
God sanctifies (sets apart for his use) your vocation because he needs Christians through all areas of society. The teacher; the homemaker; the librarian; the policeman; the janitor; the reporter (the list is practically endless); each can live out the calling of God through his or her chosen vocation. Use the abilities and talents with which God has gifted you for his glory. Salt sprinkled seasons food. Christians sprinkled throughout society season and preserve society. We are to serve God through our work, and not seek change for the sake of change.
Our society attaches status (or lack thereof) to certain lines of work. In the name of self-betterment, jobs are changed without much thought. The Christian should give any desire for change in vocation very careful consideration. Is that desire borne of selfishness, or in seeking to better serve God? In God's economy there are no prestigious vocations. The sanitation worker is as valuable as the doctor. The janitor can live out the call of God just as surely as the pastor. Worldly status is irrelevant to God. What is relevant is that God wants to use you where you are. You do not need to wait on a better job to serve him. See your vocation as your assignment from God. It is. He has gifted you with your unique talents and abilities, use them for his glory.