Let me ask you…who still has a home phone? Apparently, 1/3 of Canadians don’t have a home phone anymore. Most of us understand that something has shifted in the last number of years. Technology is one thing…but…also…people used to enjoy (or be at least be ok) getting calls, not so anymore. These days, when someone calls, we’re shocked. “Who’s calling me? Why would anyone call me?”
One of my favourite comedians does a routine on the difference between the doorbell ringing, let’s say 30 years ago, to the doorbell ringing today. 30 years ago we were ok with someone coming to the door, we said, hey, I wonder who that is, let’s go see. Today, we’re shocked that someone would drop by, and before even checking to see who it is, we close all the lights and pretend that nobody is home. This is the same attitude we have with phone calls. What are we afraid of? That we might have to respond to something too quickly. If they text me or leave a voicemail, I can think about my response before giving them an answer.
Over the next few weeks we’re going to dive into what it means to be us. THIS. IS. US. A series about who we are, who we’re becoming and why it matters. Our first stop on this journey? Calling. Why calling is an important part of what it means to follow Jesus, and why we simply must be aware and attentive to what Jesus is calling us to do and who he’s calling us to be. Here we go.
There’s an obvious difference between getting a (phone) call, and ‘calling’. Both require a response, but the implications are far different. Understanding our CALLING being much more important.
The word ‘called’ shows up 480x in the Bible (NIV) , and almost 800x in a topical sense. What do you think about when you hear the word ‘calling’? or ‘called’? There was an old joke about being ‘called’ to Africa. Someone would, with a deep voice say, ‘go to Africa’, and you’d say, ‘no Lord, not Africa’. Africa is a beautiful place, but it was a metaphor for something you’d never want God to ask of you.
For some people, when we think about calling, it invokes fear, for others it inspires adventure. If anything, calling should be connected to purpose. Biblically, it is something you are ‘called to be’ and ‘called to do’.
As you can imagine, there are many published lists of ways to identify your calling. From Christian writers, to self-help authors, to Oprah – people wanna help us figure out our calling.
Here are a few from a Forbes list…
– Ignore the future, deal with the present
– Say yes to odd opportunities
– Find a problem to solve
– Don’t follow someone else’s dream
– Ask the elderly for advice
– Spend time before you spend money
– Don’t confuse a job with your purpose
– Be authentically uncool
All good, right?
Calling is about What are you called to? Who are you called to? How you discover that calling?
18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
If you were in Galilee today, they’d show you a boat that may have belonged to Andrew & Peter. It was found in an archeological dig one dry summer. It’s a reminder of what the disciples did (for a living), and what they left (to follow Jesus) They were making a modest living, selling things other people wanted – fish.
Why give it up? Well, Jesus was compelling. They’d heard about him and they just couldn’t say no. Callings are like that. You just know. Deep in your gut.
Why do it today? Why respond to wild and adventurous callings, or event more subtle and simple ones? JESUS.
“Christians everywhere regularly give up lifestyles & practices that look attractive, to maintain lives of honesty, integrity, faith, hope and love.”
Sometimes the calling is slow and faint, until we can’t ignore it any longer. Other times it’s more sudden and dramatic. We know this for sure: Jesus has a way of getting through to us.
What’s the call in Matthew 4? Follow me (physically, not just to hear or listen) & Fish for people instead of fish. Notice in this text that Peter is called by both his names, his old one and his new one. Which leads us to Matthew 16…
Jesus, in conversation with his disciples, asks them who they think he his. They give a few answers (some say this & that, John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah), but Peter gets it right and says, “You are the Messiah, the son of the living God”. What follows is amazing… 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades (hell) will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
After Peter affirms and tells Jesus who he is, Jesus turns around and tells Peter who he is. You Are…Peter…Rock…one of the broken, yet called people that I will build my church on. You can’t see it, but this church you’ll be building will be so strong and impactful, not even the gates of hell can knock it down. And I will give you the keys…the tools…to fulfill this calling in you’re your life.
So Peter, who do you say that I am? MESSIAH. And Jesus, who do you say that I am? Who are you calling me to be? ROCK/PETER – a new name for a new calling.
2 stories. 4 disciples. They discover who they are, who they are going to become. And why it mattered.
Here’s why it matters to us: We want to know what we’re called to & who we’re called to…(sometimes obvious and sometimes not so obvious) Calling defines us – our Calling identifies our impact. In every calling in biblical narrative, no one knew what would come, but they did know the first step – follow Jesus – follow this calling. Becoming a follower of Jesus meant that CALLING becomes more important than anything…as it directs and defines all the steps of your life. (big and small)
We can’t walk through all 480x we read ‘called’ in the bible. But here are a few important places:
2 Chr 7 who (you) are called by name
Gen 1 God ‘called’ the man (adam)
Gen 17 you’re now called Abraham (new name)
Rom 1 you’re called to belong to Jesus
Rom 8 called according to God’s purpose
Rom 9 called to be children of God
1 Cor 1 called to be his holy people
1 Cor 1 called into fellowship with Jesus
1 Cor 7 called to live in peace
Gal 5 called to be free
Eph 4 called to one hope
1 Pet 2 called out of darkness and into light
THIS IS US. A Called People. A Called Community.
– – – – – – – – – – –
We don’t know where the call will lead us, but we are compelled to answer, because Jesus is the one calling.
God, in his mercy, reveals things little by little. We never know the impact of our calling, but we somehow know it’s worth it.
We don’t have to be perfect to respond, simply available.
Whatever our calling is, whatever Jesus is calling us to do, one thing is for sure, our calling calls attention to whatever new thing God is doing, and we’re part of God’s plan to help others see it.
? Will you answer the phone (the call) ?