The Call of God
A few weeks ago, we had a guy come to our house to do some work on our TV and internet. He wasn’t exactly a cable guy but he kind of did the same things checking things out and making sure everything was working alright. I mean this is important stuff, right? Can one even survive these days without TV and internet? While I’m kidding, kind of, most of us would have a hard time getting by day-to-day without these things. So while working in our family room, the cable guy asked me what I did for a living. I told him that I was a pastor. Now usually when I tell strangers that I’m a pastor, they don’t have a whole lot to say. But this guy was different. He went on to say that he has friends that are pastors and they’ve told him pastoring is just like any other job but easier. Whoa! When he said that, I had to keep myself from reacting. I was thinking…LIKE ANY OTHER JOB?? EASIER?? Well I wasn’t interested in getting into a long conversation (and we both had work to do) so I just said from my experience some things about being a pastor are harder than other jobs and some are easier, and left it at that.
One of my takeaways from that conversation is that I think the things of God are not always easily understood. Which is not a surprise to me. I think there are truths to what he was saying but also fallacies. As we see in scripture, I believe God calls particular people to particular places for particular purposes because that’s how He carries out His plan even today. And it doesn’t just apply to pastors or missionaries but applies to each one of us as we seek to live out God’s will in our lives. From that standpoint, you and I are not not just searching for any job (and certainly not just looking for ease or convenience). We’re looking to do what God wants us to do in our vocations, in our homes, and in our ministries. In a book I’m reading by O.S. Hawkins about pastoring, he notes four important elements found in Acts 13 related to the call of God upon our lives:
The call of God is personal – In Acts 13:2 it says “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” There were many others around but God had in mind Barnabas and Saul for a particular task. In the same way, God sees you. He knows who you are, your gifts, your strengths, your weaknesses. He doesn’t look at you as just one of many. His call is personal and there are times when He will call you to a specific job or task at home, in your career, or in ministry.
The call of God is purposeful – God has a purpose for each of us. He has a sovereign plan for your life to grow you and bring Him glory. This is what is meant in Acts 13:2 when it says Barnabas and Saul were “set apart.” In following Christ, you have the privilege of being set apart or consecrated for God’s use. And when you’re called and empowered by the Holy Spirit to do something, no one can fulfill that purpose or perform that task quite like you can.
The call of God is practical – Not only did God choose them by name, He had in mind what He wanted them to do. The call of God involves action in our lives; things He wants to accomplish through us. Acts 13:4-5 says “The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues…” Our salvation is not based on works (it’s by grace alone) but in life and ministry, there is a work to which God calls us.
The call of God is providential – Lastly, it is a call from God, not from man. Back to verse 2, it says “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” God called them. They didn’t determine on their own what they should do or what was next. They could have but it might not have been right. You and I have a higher calling as well than just what we want to do. We must be sensitive to pray, to listen, and to obey.
I believe that God still calls particular people to particular places for particular purposes. It is the way He bestows purpose and blessing upon the lives of His children, and includes us in carrying out His sovereign plan. It is a great adventure! He may be calling you right now to a specific task, relationship, or ministry activity. Let us seek first His will in our lives (Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”) and then obey His call for you and me.