Am I called by God?
This is a question that many of us who follow Jesus ask ourselves over the course of our faith journeys. In my experience, what people usually mean by this question is something like this: Does God want me to serve him on a pastoral team or in some sort of a missionary context, such as campus ministries or traditional missionary service in an international setting.
This sort of calling is important, don’t get me wrong. But it’s my belief and conviction that all of us who claim Jesus as Lord are called. We are called to follow Jesus!
This leaves a few questions, which I want to explore.
- What kind of person can be called? Anyone who is willing to submit to the Lordship of Jesus. Anyone. As we read the story of Jesus in the Gospels we see that Jesus calls all sorts of people to follow him, not just the religious sort of people. Then, at the end of the story in Matthew 28, we read that Jesus wants his friends to make disciples of all people. Not some people. Not the right people. All people.
- What does it mean to be called? As I’ve written about before, being called to follow Jesus means doing what Jesus did — making disciples, loving people, caring for those in need, and bringing the good news to the poor. In other words, the call to follow Jesus is active, not passive, as Francis Chan has reminded us so often!
- When am I called and when am I supposed to act on it? If we take the Gospels seriously and if we are trying to actively imitate Jesus, then this answer is pretty straightforward. In Matthew 4.19 Jesus makes some disciples and immediately tells them that he will make them disciplemakers. So we are called at the very beginning and we should act on our calling as soon as we are trained up in the most basic aspects of following Jesus. Check this out: in Luke 5 Jesus calls his first disciples. Then in Luke 10 he sends out some of his followers on their first mission. That’s just five chapters, and less for some of them! What are we waiting for?
- Where does God call me to follow him? Who knows! Some of us are called to stay, like the man who had a whole bunch of demons exorcised from his body. Jesus told him to go home to his own people in order to tell them how much the Lord had done for him (Mark 5.19). On the other hand, he send out the 72 in Luke 10 to go before him. So where are we called to go? Where ever Jesus sends us, that’s where!
- Why in the world does God call me to join him in his will to reconcile all things to himself in Christ Jesus? God wants to use us to transform the world because he created the world and everything in it (Acts 17.24) and he loves the world so much that he decided to become flesh to redeem it (John 3.16; 1.14). And then, in a move that is left to the deep mysteries of the universe, God chose to use normal ol’ human beings to be agents of this redemption (2 Corinthians 5.19-20). It appears that God deeply desires to choose us, to empower us, to partner with us. That’s pretty cool!
- How does God call me? He speaks and we listen. God has a long history of speaking (in creation, to Moses, to his prophets, through Jesus, through the Scriptures, etc.) and he continues to speak today. Some of us hear a voice from the Lord. Others get clear impressions from him. But most of us hear him calling us in the Scriptures as we seek to learn them and live them out within community. However, God is the King of the Universe and he can use whatever means he wants to reach into our lives to communicate with us. Here’s the question: Are we listening?
Brothers and sisters, if you follow Jesus, you are called. You are called to actively follow him where ever he leads you. You are called to do the things that were central to Jesus: making disciples (Matthew 28.19), loving God and others (Matthew 22.38-40), and pursuing justice for those who are easily forgotten (Luke 4.16-21). Are you doing these things?
Are you called by God? Tell me about it in the comments below!