God’s call is to all, yall! Ekklesia, the Greek word replaced by the word church in almost all English Bible translations, literally means called out ones. If you are a member of the body of Christ, you are called!
The concept of being called by God is fairly common. Most Protestant denominations and churches, especially evangelical ones, believe in a call to preach. They believe that individuals are chosen by God and given a special call, directly from God, to be a pastor or a minister. They believe that ministry isn’t an occupation that people choose to enter, but a calling directly from God that people hear and obey.
Thus, there is a common belief that God still speaks to ordinary people who aren’t preachers, aren’t ordained, and aren’t seminary or Bible school trained. Why would God’s contemporary communication with ordinary, modern-day people be limited to calling people to preach? If God can and does speak to people to call them to preach, it only makes sense that He can also call everyday people to do other things as well.
In fact, when you look up the word call in the New Testament, you don’t find the phrase called to preach anywhere. The closet thing you can find is in Romans 10:15 where Paul asks the question, “And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?” It’s interesting to note that in this case, people are sent out to preach to unbelievers, not called in to preach to Christians.
The rest of the time called is used in the New Testament it refers not to a calling of special people to an office of preacher, pastor, or minister; but a calling to all Christ followers. For example, Peter wrote: “But you (plural–in the South we say yall) are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you (yall) may declare the praises of him who called you (yall) out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
In this passage, Peter is referring to all Christ-followers, not to just a few, special ones. He says that all believers have been called. We are all called both out of and into: “out of darkness into His wonderful light.”
Jesus, Himself, issued a call to all. He said to whoever was listening: “Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15) He was issuing a calling to ordinary people to come out of sinful thoughts and behaviors (repent) and into faith and obedience to Him.
Jesus’ call is to whoever, not to just a select few. “Then He (Jesus) said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me.'” Dietrich Bonhoeffer called this the “call to discipleship.”
Some people may point out that Jesus called the 12 and the 70 to a special calling. However, Jesus also told them to teach the everyday people they bring Christ “to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:20) In other words, the apostles were to train others to follow and obey Jesus in they same way that Jesus trained them. They were not to use their calling as a way to intimidate or control others; but rather, in humility, to pass on their calling to the ordinary people they introduce to Christ.
Here’s another example of God’s call to all. Paul wrote the book of Romans to all Christ-followers in Rome. He begins the book like this: “To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people (King James versions says saints).” (Romans 1:7) All Christians are called to live a holy and pure lifestyle.
When Jesus calls Paul, He says to him: “I have appeared to you to appoint you a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of Me.” (Acts 28:16) Jesus calls Paul to be a witness of what he has seen, not a professional preacher. Later, when Paul is describing his call, Paul says: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)
Paul’s call was to pursue Jesus with all His body, soul, mind, and spirit and to make as big of an impact for Christ as he can. I believe that is the calling on every Christ-follower. I believe that if you are a Christ-follower and (are still on the planet), you have been called to follow and obey Jesus with everything you’ve got.
So what exactly are we called to do? We are called to:
resist the devil;
walk in the light;
love one another;
come unto Jesus;
draw near to God;
serve one another;
tell what God has done;
read and obey the Bible;
fight the good fight of faith;
obey the voice of the Spirit;
confess our sins to each other;
seek first to be under God’s rule;
consider others better than ourselves;
stir up the gift of God that is within us;
contend for the faith once delivered to the saints;
and so much more that can be found in the Bible.
The church may consist of one man who has been called to preach and a bunch of other people who are not called to do anything but sit and listen to the one called preacher; but the very word that Jesus, Himself used to define His followers (ekklesia–called out ones) shouts the opposite! If you are a part of Christ’s body, you are called!
When only one person is allowed to obey his calling in a worship meeting and the rest are required to ignore what God is calling them to say and/or do in the meeting; God’s ability to speak to that group is severely restricted. However, ekklesia gives every believer the freedom to listen to God, hear His call, and then to share whatever he heard in the meeting.
William Booth put it this way: “‘Not called!’ did you say? ‘Not heard the call,’ I think you should say.” Ekklesia creates a Spirit-filled atmosphere where everyday people can listen to God calling in their hearts and then obey Him in a safe, supportive, and encouraging environment.
“If we are not convinced of our calling, we will fail. We must experience the power of the Holy Spirit.” –General André Cox (International leader of The Salvation Army)
“Today the world is on our doorstep. We may not all be called to personally go to the end of the earth, but we are called to stand up and to open the door in front of us.” –Major David Vandebeulque (The Salvation Army France & Belgium Territory)
So what would happen if we began to live our lives as if every day on our “job” was a personal calling from God? And what if we also saw all the rest of our day to day life, not as our own, but as a personal calling from God? Like General Cox said, “we will fail” unless we are “convinced of our calling.” Are you? Is your calling a burning reality in your heart?
If not, God, the Holy Spirit, will make your calling real to you. Just ask Him: “Show, me Lord, what You are calling me to do with my life, with this day, and with this moment.” If you listen, God give you wisdom and passion for your personal calling.