You Have a Calling!

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Laitylodge painting

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

Ephesians 4:

When I was in my early twenties, I began to sense that God was leading me to enter the ordained ministry in the Presbyterian church. When I shared this with church leaders, they asked if I had a "call" to ministry. I said I wasn't sure, but was open to this possibility. Thus began a season of discernment, in which church leaders and I sought to discover whether or not I had a "call."

In my Christian tradition, just like in many others, the language of "call" or "calling" applies to the experience of ordained clergy. Pastors have a calling, which means, by implication or omission, that "ordinary" Christians do not. This way of thinking falls short of the biblical perspective, however. Yes, those of us who are ordained have been called by God into his service. But the same is true for those who do not put "Rev." in front of their names.

We see this clearly in Ephesians 4:1, for example. Here Paul writes, "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." Notice, Paul is not addressing only church leaders. Rather, as he speaks to the entire community, he encourages them to live out "the calling you have received."

In the context of Ephesians, this calling belongs both to individual believers and to the community as a whole. Thus, if you have received God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ, you have been called by God. Moreover, as a member of Christ's body, the church, you share a calling with your fellow members. Together, we have been called by God.

In tomorrow's reflection, we'll examine the content of this calling. For now, I would invite you to consider the implications of the fact that you have a calling from God.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you think of yourself as having a calling? If so, what does this mean to you? If not, why not? When you hear Paul refer to "the calling you have received," what comes to mind? Do you see your life as the living out of a calling?

PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for calling each one of us, no matter our role in your church. Thank you for deeming us worthy to receive this calling, in spite of our failings and fears. Thank you for calling us, not just as individuals, but also as the community of your people.

Help us, Lord, to understand calling in light of Scripture. To the extent we have limited calling only to ordained clergy, teach us to think in new ways. Help us—each one of us—to see ourselves as people who have been called by you. May we come to clarity about what this means and how it can shape our lives for your purposes and glory. Amen.

P.S. from Mark: For an excellent overview of a Christian understanding of calling, see "Vocation Overview" at the Theology of Work Project.

Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.

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