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Now, about that calling of yours ...

“I was called to do X.”

We hear this often in Christian circles. And the "X" almost always means something special, some work or way of life God has specifically called me to pursue:

I was called to be a missionary. I was called to preach the Word. I was called to be a mother. And so on. On this evidence, it seems that there are as many specific callings as there are lines of work, etc.

Or this: I was called to be an electrical engineer. In other words, even "secular" occupations can be given a special imprimatur from heaven if a person says he was called to do it.

When a church hires a pastor, the usual terminology is that the applicant has received a call. That's different from you, sitting in the pew over there. You don't have such a call. You're just called to sit in a pew.

Aside from pastors, a more general group of folks in Christian work usually say they do what they do because God has called them to do it.

And an even larger group of Christians -- usually devout and earnest young people, but even old guys like me -- often feel "on the sidelines" because they are either 1) eagerly waiting to get a specific calling from God ("God hasn't told me anything yet ..."; or 2) still trying to figure out what that special calling is after so many years.

Now, the overwhelming evidence in the New Testament says that this view of each person having a specific calling is incorrect.

True, it says repeatedly of Paul that he was called to be an apostle. That's about as special and specific as it can get.

But for the rest of us -- the rest of us sitting in pews OR preaching from the pulpit -- calling is almost always used in a general sense.

To be precise: in the overwhelming majority of cases, the New Testament uses "calling" to denote the initial conversion of a person into the Christian faith.

After this initial calling of God, a calling that gives new life to an individual dead in his trespasses and sins, there are very few specific callings for specific individuals.

Very few.

Yes but David: what about when Paul says "let every man abide in the calling to which he was called?" Isn't that specific calling?

Well, in that context, Paul was referring to slaves. If in life you find yourself a slave, abide in that calling. If in life you are a free man, abide in that calling.

This is not making all walks of life common.

This is making all walks of life special.

We are not called to do specific wonderful works.

We are simply to rejoice in the fact that we were once dead, but are now made alive by the calling of God.


1 Corinthians 7.20-24 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. 21 Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.

1 John 3.1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.

1 Peter 2.9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

2 Peter 1.10 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (Here Peter is referring to cultivation of general Christ-like qualities).

Paul, called to be an apostle: Romans 1.1; 1 Corinthians 1.1; (and implied in many of the opening greetings of his letters).


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