It’s for you! Can’t you hear the ringing? (Jan 24)
I’ve been called by God!
“I feel I’m being called to be an international speaker of faith. The great and the good will applaud and always want to buy more of my time. I’m going to be in demand and popular like Jesus. God blesses good and clever people like me.”
I wrote this to be wrong about ‘God’s calling’ in as many ways as I could think of.Nothing wrong with doing well, but…
My calling is wrong because it’s all about me and my; job,finance, popularity, success, status, influence, intelligence, pleasure… Narcissism thrives in religion, politics and even Christian Leadership.
They were like distorted 35mm photographs. Underdeveloped and over exposed.
Should I seek to gain status, influence and popularity in order to have a platform to exhibit Christ like humility and service?
Calling. “What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.” C.S.Lewis,The Magician’s Nephew
I’ve now completed week 2 of GMC School of Discipleship. We were asked to consider ‘Calling’ in the bible. We were offered 11 OT and 7 NT bible verses to consider.
I got started…
9 different calling methods were mentioned. I’m struck by the level of detail and even dialogue reported in the OT. To be honest I’m jealous. I often ask myself questions about hearing God’s call. Can I trust my thinking? I even question my questions.
I’ve never heard voices. I’ve heard people claiming that God has told them X and others Y about the same issue. I’m dubious and sceptical. Who is right? Narcissism is rife! We do need to take care choosing what/who we listen to and remember the C.S Lewis,Screwtape Letters.
I’m also concerned about the mental health of those who hear voices. Religious experience might include hearing your name called, sensing another presence, or seeing Angels. These could be rationalised with labels such as Psychosis. Does that mean they are not real?
I may be reliant on reason rather than relationship. I’m encouraged by the call of C.S. Lewis portrayed in the film, “The most reluctant Convert.” He was a real intellectual and battled with reason journeying in faith. “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” C.S. Lewis,Is Theology Poetry?
Christian discipleship is not about certainty. It’s more about Christian mindfulness. Deliberately improving awareness to discover more. Faithfully responding. Calling may come from mindfulbeing, not just doing. Thoughts based on words by Shaun Lambert,A book of Sparks
I have no problem with NT folk hearing the voice of the physical Jesus. The NT also includes hearing from God in multiple ways. I find the calling comparison of Zacchaeus and the Rich Ruler revealing. Both had money.
Zacheus (Luke 19:1-10) was unpopular having sought safely though collaboration and cooperation to gain wealth for those in Power. (v2) He worked around his physical disability. (v3-4) However, he sought Jesus who met him on his territory. (v5) Zacchaeus knew he’d done wrong and wanted to do more than pay back debts despite personal cost. (v6) He knew Jesus was more important than money. He received salvation. (v8)
The rich ruler (Luke 18:18-27) had wealth (v23) and status (v18). He knew and obeyed the law. (v20-21) These seemed to mean more to him than obedience to the voice and call of Jesus. (v22) The desires of the world are hard to put second (v24) but not impossible to resists with God’s help. (V27)
The call may be an invitational offer. To invite someone to a meal or celebration (e.g. Matthew 22:3) Greek: καλέω (kal-eh-o) meaning to bid, call, invite… (Strongs G2564) The call may be louder (e.g. Luke 6:13) Greek προσφωνέω (pros-fo-neh’-o) meaning to call to, to address by calling. (Strongs G4377)
God must be the priority! We must Let Our Kingdom Go so that “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) There is equality for all. Worldly values and barriers are overcome by a faithful response to the call.
“A Person has to be thoroughly disgusted with the way things are to find the motivation to set out on the Christian way… A person has to get fed up with the ways of the world before he, before she, acquires an appetite for the world of grace.” Eugene H Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction
Calling: More recent Testimony
There are many heroes of faith. I’ll seek guidance from three diverse individuals who leave a legacy of literature from which to learn. Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945stood up to Aryan supremacy and Hitler. Martin Luther King, Jr 1929 – 1968 led non-violent response to racism. Both were executed.
Amy Carmichael 1867 -1951 came alongside the sexually exploited. She responded, lived and died, in the place she served. She did not want a headstone to draw attention to herself.
We are called to a relationship, not a job or location initially. This relationship will involve suffering and sacrifice to put God’s purposes first. Discipleship has huge personal cost. This is what it really means to give your life to God. It’s more than a few lines of prayer and it’s done.
“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have. Philippians 1:29-30 (NIV)
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” Matthew 16: 24-26 (NIV)
Calling: Helpful quotes.
“The tests are always unexpected things, not great things that can be written up, but the common little rubs of life, silly little nothings, things you are ashamed of minding one scrap.” Amy Carmichael –A very Present Help.
“Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace. If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace. In that stillness you will know what His will is.” Amy Carmichael,Gold Cord: The Story of a Fellowship.
“Well, I don’t know what will happen now; we’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life—longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.” Martin Luther King, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” the day before he was assassinated in 1968.
“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Apostle Paul, Philippians 3:10-12 (NIV)
“Part of the reason for this is that transformation is presented as a one-off event rather than a lifelong process of restoration. And the inevitable fallout is that after the initial emotional high, the event that promised so much leaves the attendee disappointed and disillusioned.” Pete Portal, How to be (un)successful.
“The economy of God’s kingdom is quite simple; every new step in the kingdom will cost us everything we have gained to date.” John Wimber,The dynamics of Spiritual Growth.
“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”C.S. Lewis,God in the Dock
“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
“If mission isn’t connected to discipleship in community most of the efforts go nowhere.“ Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus
“First and foremost we are called to Someone (God), not to something (such as motherhood, politics, or teaching) or to somewhere (such as the inner city or Outer Mongolia)” OS GUINNESS, What is a Calling?
Wisdom is required to interpret God’s calling.
“I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”Moses?, Genesis 41:16 (NIV)