When we think of the 'call of God' on someone's life, we first think of going into pulpit ministry. But in truth His 'call' is something we have all answered, for the first 'call' was to believe.
The invitation is clear, yet subtle
After we accepted the initial invitation to believe, we found He intended a lifetime of growth. We were asked to move from being a mere believer into being a disciple - a learner.
Perhaps the trouble is we would rather be just a believer at times, with no expectation of growth or change, rather than a disciple - a learner. Being asked to grow as a person in the midst of difficulty runs contrary to our flesh.
There is a tug of war always going on within ourselves, the one side rationalizing reasons not to grow by saying "But I'm a believer!" But He has kept walking ahead in the midst of these growth opportunities trying to lead us as a disciple...and the more we say 'But I"m a believer" the further away He walks and the more faint His voice becomes.
It is up to us to follow Him in these ways. Jesus rebuked Satan's suggestion through Peter that He not go to the cross, telling Peter to take up his cross - crucify the ideas in his mind on how Jesus should live His life - and take up the Father God's ideas for Jesus. That's hard on the flesh, but that is His invitation and leading.
The call of God is to growth
In Ephesians 1: 17-19 Paul prays the eyes of their understanding would be opened so they would know "the hope of the call the Lord extends to you and the riches of His glory..."
The word 'call' is the Greek word, 'invitation'. Vine's Dictionary of NT Words says it "...is always used as an invitation, in which the origin, nature and destiny are heavenly." His invitation, leading, is to partake of heavenly qualities.
He invites us to heavenly things. Does our character, the way we behave to our spouse, our children, our brothers and sisters in the Lord, our coworkers and neighbors, look like this? And if not, realize that is part of our invitation to know the hope and glory of heavenly things. From the JB Philips Translation:
This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience--
it looks for a way of being constructive.
It is not possessive:
It is neither anxious to impress
nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.
Love has good manners
and does not pursue selfish advantage.
It is not touchy.
It does not keep account of evil
or gloat over the wickedness of other people.
On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.
Love knows no limit to its endurance,
no end to its trust,
no fading of its hope;
it can outlast anything.
It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen. (I Corinthians 13: 4-8a)
Can you sit down on the sofa, look your spouse in the eye, and say: "This is me towards you!" ?
Can you do the same with your children? Your neighbor? Your fellow church member? Your coworkers?
Are these qualities the way we live? He is leading us deeper into love, deeper into Him, deeper into these qualities.
The invitation as a disciple is to learn to be like Him. That means He leads us to forgive, to endure, to think the best and see the best in others as He Himself does in us. The acceptance of His invitations are daily. He keeps walking in that direction - are we following?
When couples drift apart, it is because they have failed love. Friends drift because they fail love. Relationships that fall apart failed love, either one or both failed love. Love hasn't failed them. They have failed to grow in love, to work through issues, to be more like Him towards each other. The same for friends, neighbors, coworkers, fellow church members.
Consider these character traits and see if you can say: "Yes I have received the Lord's invitation to grow in these things, and therefore I see these things in myself" From II Peter 1: 5-8:
For this very reason you must do your utmost from your side,
and see that your faith carries with it real goodness of life.
Your goodness must be accompanied by knowledge,
your knowledge by self-control, your self-control by the ability to endure.
Your endurance too must always be accompanied by devotion to God;
that in turn must have in it the quality of brotherliness,
and your brotherliness must lead on to Christian love.
Peter goes on to say: "If these qualities are in you and abounding, they will make you so that you are neither barren nor unfruitful in your knowledge of Christ." I don't know anyone who wants a failed spiritual life with the Lord, yet it requires the development of these qualities in our character, and 'they will make you' successful in Him.
He is found within these qualities. So...do you really want to see Him? What if He appeared to you today, would you be willing to grow in these things in order to know Him? Really? Then live it. That is how to know Him - the power of His resurrection AND the fellowship of His sufferings. (To our fleshly desires).
From the same translation, Galatians 5: 22-23:
The Spirit however, produces in human life fruits such as these:
self-control—and no law exists against any of them.
Those who belong to Christ have crucified their old nature with all that it loved and lusted for.
This is where He leads - that's why I say so often where He leads is usually the more difficult of the decisions to make that are before us. His way is usually the more difficult way. It leads to crucifying our old thoughts and ways. He leads us to His cross over and over again, as an invitation to follow Him to that cross by killing off old thoughts, distilling our thoughts and emotions to hold them captive to what He says - do we really want to follow His voice?
The only difference between someone mature in the Lord and someone not, is a series of decisions.
Every day requires us to make decisions - make the right ones for that is where He is leading.
New subject next week, until then, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org