Last week I had an unexpected exchange of ideas with a handful of people in the comments section of my literary agent’s blog. My agent, Tamela, had written a blog posting titled I Have No Plans to Write That Book. She was pressing us to write what it makes sense for us to write, while avoiding the enticement of topics that might be interesting to us, but outside our area of expertise and influence.
As always, Tamela ended her posting with a couple of questions, in this case, both of them asking what we blog post readers could, or should be writing.
I pondered Tamela’s questions at length, and came close to moving on without responding because I could not come up with anything I believed to be a satisfying answer. I did eventually respond, doing so with that same sensation we have as students taking an essay test, when you know you have to write something, even if it is ignorant nonsense. One cannot simply leave the answer blank.
Here is what I wrote:I faced down death twice in 2012, once in February and again in October, surviving a physical condition in a way that defied medical science, a condition usually diagnosed during the autopsy. When I questioned the doctors as to why I am alive, the only response they could give was, “You’re just lucky, I guess.”
I concluded, rather, that there is something God wants me to do – some purpose I am to accomplish. My task, then, is/was to identify that task, that calling. So, perhaps the manuscript to write is one on how to identify your purpose or calling.
I haven’t researched it, but I suspect there is already a pile of such books available.
I thought that was the end of it. I had answered the essay question, and was now moving on.
Before the morning was half-over, my reply had received a flurry of responses from other blog readers saying, “Write that book, brother! Write that book! You should definitely consider doing so.” One gentleman even suggested the title for the proposed manuscript, taken from my comment – Just Lucky, I Guess.
I was completely taken aback by the reaction to what I’d said, but then God often uses experiences like this to rattle our cage and get our attention. In response to this abrupt and unexpected experience, for the past few days I have been thinking about and interacting with others on this idea of “calling.”
We Are Called
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, – Ephesians 4:1, ESV
The usual focus when analyzing this verse from the apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church is to elaborate on those ideas incorporated in “worthy,” debating what does, or does not, constitute a worthy walk. Today, I would rather you note nothing more than that there is a call. You have been called with a calling! And we will look at that calling from the 30,000 foot level.
A Calling of Location
As Christ-followers, we have been “called out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9). We were “in” darkness, believing we see but not seeing, believing we understand but not understanding.
There were those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in misery and chains. – Psalm 107:10, NASB
Our location has changed. We are no longer in darkness, but in light, and not just light, but “his marvelous light.”
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. – Isaiah 9:2, ESV
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. – 1 John 1:6-7, ESV
A Calling of Quality
Our calling is characterized as “a heavenly calling” (Hebrews 3:1), and it is a calling we share. Much emphasis is given, I believe inappropriately, to the “personal” relationship with Chtist, to the neglect of the shared blessing of the entire body, or family of Christ. Here, the writer of Hebrews uses the term μετχος (metochos) to emphasize the shared, or mutual participation in that heavenly calling.
Our calling is an upward call, high and majestic. “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
A Calling of Purpose
Our calling in Christ comes with responsibility. We do not come passively to a blessing party. We are not simply hanging out with Jesus. The much loved verse, Romans 8:28, makes it clear that our calling in Christ comes with purpose.
For starters, we are “called saints” (Romans 1:7), αγιος (hagios), holy, set-apart. Our purpose in being called in Christ, to be chosen in him, is a call to holiness as men and women of God. I recognize many translations render this something like “called to be saints” or even more closely “called as saints.” It is literally two words, “kleitois hagios,” called saints.
Our calling is not to be or to become saints. As the called of God, we are saints. We are made holy in that calling.
Immediately preceding this, Paul told the church at Rome that we are “called to belong to Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:6). Again, more literally, we are of Christ, certainly in the sense of being his possession (genitive), but almost as though we are of his essence, perhaps lending itself to the oft-seen phrase, “in Christ.” We are the face of Christ to a lost and dying world.
Everything in our lifestyle should center around the reality that “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10).
A Calling to be Protected & Cherished
The apostle Peter urges us to give diligence and eagerness to confirming our calling, to make it a surety. We are told to “give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). Cherish and strive after that calling. Confirm it in your every waking moment, and guard it as a precious jewel.
Your life in Christ is no accident, cherished one. You are in Christ because you have been called there. Walk confidently and worthily in that calling.