We hear a lot about “calling” from various passages, and equally varied speakers. It’s another one of those religious words we speak and hear and occasionally nod in agreement, doing so whether or not we really understand the word. Sometimes the head-nod means, I’m uncertain what you really mean, but I’m trying very hard to follow your thought line.
But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not rush to consult with flesh and blood.
– Galatians 1:15-16, BSB
The passage above does little to clarify “calling” while doing much to deepen the mystery of the concept. The apostle Paul, one of the most prolific writers of our New Testament codex speaks of his calling by grace, and it seems to have come from even before he was born. And his calling came with a divine inspiration.
For I certify to you, brothers, that the gospel I preached was not devised by man. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
– Galatians 1:11-12, BSB
This is where it becomes interesting, to me at least. Prior to what we read above—the inspired writing and preaching of the apostle Paul—this same Paul had stood in bitter, murderous opposition to the very gospel he now preached.
For you have heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how severely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.
– Galatians 1:13, BSB
But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.
– Acts 8:3, BSB
Shortly afterward, Saul/Paul had a life-changing encounter with Jesus and began preaching the very faith he once destroyed.1 But here’s the astonishing reality; even as Paul invested years fighting, warring against God, against his church, Paul had already been set apart unto God, called by God’s grace while he was still in his mother’s womb.
Growing up as a young Jewish boy, interacting with friends, learning life in the synagogue, studying under the renowned instruction of Gamaliel, even his crusades against “the way” . . . all of it was used by God who had called him, shaping, forming him into the man he would become to fulfill his calling.
You have a calling, Christ-follower. You may know what it is, or you may not, but you do have one. And we are to walk in and walk worthily of that calling.
As a prisoner in the Lord, then, I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling you have received:
– Ephesians 4:1, BSB
I’m not talking about calling in general, as in the calling upon all to “belong to Christ Jesus,”2 or the calling for all to “be saved and come to a knowledge of truth.”3
Beyond that call, we have a shared call to minister the gospel to the unbelieving world, a “ministry of reconciliation”4 wherein we walk as ambassadors of Christ.
But there is a specific call on your life, Christ-follower, a call that God placed there from the womb of your mother. “To each is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”5 My calling came in the summer of 1984. I knew I was to be a teacher, speaker, writer. God laid it heavily on my heart to be a teacher of his love, grace, and salvation.
Find your calling in Christ, and then faithfully walk in it.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
– Ephesians 2:10, ESV
1. Galatians 1:23
2. Romans 1:6
3. 1 Timothy 2;4
4. 2 Corinthians 5:18
5. 1 Corinthians 12:7