You may be familiar with the idea that if you are a Christian you have been called by God, but what does that actually mean for us? What have we been called to, and how can we respond to that call?
During his time on earth Jesus gave two calls to his disciples that I feel correspond with the general call made by God to every believer. (Obviously there will be additional personal calls, such as a call to a certain profession or location that will vary for each person.)
The first comes in Mark 2. It is a short, seemingly simple call. Yet if you fully respond to it, it will turn your life upside down. What is this call? It is “Follow me”. The first call from God to all believers is that we follow his Son. That we live like Jesus did. That we learn from him, and let him be the main influence in our lives. For the disciples following that call meant dropping everything. It meant leaving behind family, friends, jobs, security and heading out into the unknown, relying simply on Jesus. And I wonder for how many believers today that call rings true. I wonder how many of us would be prepared to drop everything and follow Jesus. And how many people that call themselves Christians are constantly trying to be follow their leader and be more Christ-like? Maybe we need to take the time to immerse ourselves fully in the teachings of Jesus, and then we will realize that what it means to fully follow him, what it means to be salt unto the world, what it means to carry our cross, and perhaps we will learn how to be his hands and feet in the world today.
So if you are struggling with the call to follow Jesus, if you are unsure of how that should be manifesting itself in your life, if you want to respond more fully to that call to follow Jesus then grab a Bible, turn to Matthew 5-7 and let Jesus teach you himself. That section of the Bible is called the Sermon on the Mount, and sums up better than any mortal ever could what it means to follow Jesus. And after you have read it, live it out.
The second call comes right at the end of Jesus’ time on earth. In Mark 16v15 he tells the disciples “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” Often people feel that Christianity is all about meetings on a Sunday morning, then life as normal Monday to Saturday. But the call from God is to something much more. It is a call to something more important. It is a call to something much more time consuming than a one hour meeting on Sunday. In the words of the RPM song ‘Why we live’, we are called to reach the world, not just sit in a pew. We have been called by God to go and make disciples of all nations, yet how often do we do anything about this? To respond to this call we simply need to be available to God. We need to be on the lookout for opportunities, and when we spot them, go for them. We need a decent knowledge of the Good News we are to preach, and need the confidence to share it with people. Prayer is a key part of responding to the call to reach the world, praying for opportunities, for the words to say, and the courage to say it.
Following these calls won’t be easy. We are following the example of Jesus, who got nailed to a cross for being too challenging to the existing system. Only one of the disciples (John) who received these calls originally died of old age. We are warned in 1 John 3v13 not to be surprised if the world hates us as a result of our following these calls. But following these calls is crucial if we are to all ourselves Christians. You have been called by God. The question is: how will you respond?