Think back to the first time in ministry you were invited to do something that was a little bit out of your reach. The first time you were asked to preach; or lead a ministry team; or go on a missions trip. If we take just five minutes, most of us would have at least a dozen of these moments. I remember the first time I was asked to join an elder board. I remember the first time I was invited to lead a short term mission trip. I still remember the first time I was asked to lead communion. One of the reasons I remember these times is because each one of them represented a step beyond where I was and where I was comfortable. Yet it was precisely these nudges that God used to develop me into who I am today. And I don’t think I am alone. Rather, I think this strategy of calling is part of the genius of God that accomplishes two things simultaneously: our growth and His mission.
Jesus was a master of this. We are all familiar with His calling of the disciples, but He called so many more people. In fact, much of Jesus’ one-on-one ministry is simply bringing people to places of decision. By way of example, consider the rich young ruler. While there was some theological setup by way of a preface, Jesus’ prime goal was to show him the decision that lay before him and call him to follow.
As I think of the work that lies before us – the lost who must be found and the found who must be formed – it drives me to more deeply embrace my identity as a caller. Influenced as I have been by an age that has little place for the altar call, I am more and more compelled to become one who regularly calls others. The lost must be called to come to Christ and the found must be called to go for Christ. We live in a day that disdains ‘stepping across the line’, but when we think back to it, stepping across the line is a huge part of all of our stories. It is what God has used to shape us and accomplish His mission.
I believe that God would have us to be more intentional and bold in this work of calling. We lament the low numbers of young men who want to be pastors – are we calling them to this work? We bemoan the lack of young people who are willing to give their lives to missions – are we creating environments for them to hear and respond to the call? We grieve over the lack of giving towards God’s mission – do we set needs before people and call for a sacrificial response? Perhaps the Lord would be leading us to examine our ministry and ask the question, “How could we create an intentional culture of calling?”
Every generation is tempted by their immediate culture to soften or ignore or otherwise diminish parts of the gospel that it finds distasteful. This kind of calling is distasteful to the culture in which you and I find ourselves. May we stand firm against this pressure and keep calling, knowing that on the Last Day we will be glad we did.
Together with you,
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