Friday, March 19, 2021

On Calling...

 The question has long lingered in my head - "what constitutes a calling?" 

Are we all called? 

In what way?  

To what are we called?

How are we called?

It seems obvious that it is reasonable to consider at least two types of calling, like there are two types of revelation.  General revelation refers to God's revelation of himself in nature, in life in general, that which is available to all.  And Special revelation is God's revelation of himself through scripture.  the website puts it this way:

God's Word, the Bible, is the final form of special revelation. It must be remembered that it is through general revelation that one is without excuse for not believing in God, but it is only through specific revelation that man can be saved.

I would suggest that there are also differing types of calling including, similarly, General and Special (or specific). General calling is that which is laid upon every believer and include: faith, obedience, growth in righteousness (sanctification), and evangelistic outreach.  I've included this last not as a specific office of evangelist but in the general mandate of Matthew 28:19-20 "as you go into all the world, be making disciples".  It is not a direct command to go, but it is a command to be making disciples as we go, wherever we go, because we are going.

Special calling is that which is specific to particular individuals - to serve as preachers, pastors, teachers, administrators, evangelists, etc.  This is the particular calling that is laid upon particular individuals.

We often neglect the myriad of believers in the Old and New Testaments whose names are lost to history but not to the Lord.  Those who were never called to more public, more official, more celebrated forms of ministry.  These are the members of our congregations - the stay at homes moms, the custodial fathers, gardeners and plumbers, the first responders, and others who do the day to day activities which keep us going, provide for our needs, not in any officially recognized ministerial or ordained fashion, but in a quiet and faith-filled way.

These are the ones who are there "when the church doors are open" the ones who pray with their friends in the field, in their offices, in their homes, who visit others in the hospital and pray for them without anyone else knowing.  A general calling of God to a life of faith and obedience. In the general sense, every believer is called to ministry, to the "good works which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10)

And then there are those specifically called to a particular ministry, who are asked to lay aside their everyday pursuits and to be more fully engaged in a specific function of ministry - our preachers, our evangelists, our missionaries.  It is not always full-time. In fact may, more often, be part-time, tent making, post retirement, on the weekends, etc.  But these are those to whom God has reached out in a particular and specific way.

The two types of calling should not be seen in an hierarchical, competitive, or even qualitatively different manner  The simple difference is that all believers are called, some according to General means to ordinary tasks  and some by Special means to a particular task.

We might further divide this sense of calling to periodic and lifelong. Some are called to do a work for a limited amount of time and others to a lifetime.

What is clear is that each and every one of the elect those whom God "calls by name" to be a part of His church are in fact called - all to faithfulness and obedience, some to specific tasks, some for a period of time and others to a lifetime of a specific activity.

The questions we ought to be asking are: "Am I in a position to hear God's call if it comes?"  and "Am I busy being obedient as I await a particular call that may never come?" So that whether we are called to a particular tasks or simply to abide in faith we are indeed the called people of God, thankful for the wondrous works he has done in our lives.

Are you, like me, waiting, hoping, for a particular call? Let us learn first and foremost to be faithful where we are, as we are, how we are. In God's Sovereignty and Providence if it is to be a specific call, it must be Him who calls. For we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Abiding in Him in either case is where we find perfect peace and contentment.



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