In our last part of this series, we asked the necessary question, “Why were you born?” And the answer to that was, to be a part of the eternal, peaceful, free, loving family of God, where all your deepest longings will be satisfied forever – including the longing to be productive and connected. Every marriage ends in death. Every BMW goes out of style and rusts out eventually. Every Super Bowl trophy will be forgotten. I can’t even remember who won it three years ago. There was a man once – John D. Rockefeller – who wanted to live forever, but the best he could do was buy up some expensive Manhattan real estate and have it named after himself. I would bet you right now most of the people who walk around Manhattan don’t remember where the name Rockefeller Center came from. If you set your mind on the physical, you’ve settled way below your full potential. Reach out for the eternal. That’s why you were born.
Today we’re moving on to the next important question, “Why were you called?” And we’re going to change that – “Why were you called?” – to “Why did God call me?” What’s this about? Well, to put it simply, God wants a personal relationship with you. And how’s He going to do that? Well, there are two answers to that question. There are two answers because there are two questions wrapped up in the one. One answer is to the question, “Why did God call me out of all the people on the earth?” And the other, “What purpose did God have in mind for me that He called me?”
So let’s look at the first one. Why has God called you when He has so many other people to choose from? In Matthew 22:14, Jesus makes an interesting comment:
Matthew 22:14 – “For many are called, but few are chosen,” He said.
I used to belong to a church that believed that only a few were being called. But there it is. Many are called. Well, what’s this statement about? How do you put in context? Well, if you back up a few verses in that section, you’ll see that Jesus was telling a story about a king – God in the analogy, right? – who prepared a wedding for his son – that would be Jesus, right? And he invited people to the wedding – that would be you, right? So he prepared an invitation list and sent them out. So a calling is like an invitation. The event will be on such-and-such a day at such-and-such a time, given by such-and-such a person. It’s also an offer to share relationship. I would love it if you would come and share this important event with me.
Okay, so the invitation is delivered. The ball is now in your court. Will you go or not? Well, in the parable, the king had trouble getting people to come to the wedding. They made all kinds of excuses. So he went out and started inviting people off the street. What’s that about? Let’s look at an important addition to this scripture that we just read. This reference can be found in Revelation 17, verse 14. This is talking about the end time.
Revelation 17:14 – They will make war on the Lamb – that’s Jesus – and the Lamb will conquer them for He is Lord of lords and King of kings. And those with Him are called chosen and faithful.
These are the words of Jesus, as related through John, about events at the end of the age when He is going to return – when we are all going to see the results of the choices we’ve made – when they will become reality. Many were called – invited – because few were faithful – that is, because few people accepted the invitation – to connect the two scriptures. Or, if they did intend to accept it, they showed up late or they came dressed inappropriately. In both cases, they didn’t take it seriously enough to prepare ahead of time.
There’s another parable that echoes these same sentiments. Anything God says is important. But when He says it again, we better make sure we get it. So here it is. It’s in Matthew 25. Jesus told a parable of ten young girls who were invited to a wedding. That would be the people whom God was calling, right? When they got there, the doors were closed, because it wasn’t time to be seated yet. So we’re waiting outside the door now, aren’t we, for the marriage of the Lamb to begin. The bridegroom – that’s Christ – He hasn’t returned yet for His bride. So, while these ten young girls waited in the night, five of them started to run out of oil for their lamps. They weren’t prepared for any eventuality. They didn’t realize they’d have to wait so long. A lot of people make fun of those others who prepare for difficult times. The idea of a bug-out bag, for example, seems like paranoia to most folks, or stocking food and water, or having a kerosene heater out in the shed.
I recall a few years ago, here in Albuquerque, that we had a cold snap. It stayed below zero for over a week and dipped down into the teens below zero at times. We’re not used to that kind of weather here. The city and the county had to shut down the government, and, if I remember correctly, the schools, as well, because we were running out of natural gas. It was a close call. Can you imagine what could have happened during a week of that kind of cold in a city without heat – especially in a city that isn’t used to it? People would have died. There might have been civil unrest and probably violent crime and food shortages. But the people who had a big pile of firewood in their backyards and a wood stove in their house…they would have survived just fine. Here’s the thing I thought about. Whether we ran out of gas or not was completely out of my control, but could have easily bought ten gallons of kerosene and a heater, if I’d done it ahead of time. So back to the five foolish girls.
They had to go looking for more oil, because they weren’t prepared. Did you catch that? God called the girls who were not prepared – not committed – foolish. Why? Because they’d been told and warned and begged over and over again to be ready – to take it seriously, to be committed. And, as they had been warned, when they came back, the other girls had been let in and the doors to the Kingdom – or the wedding – were closed. They wedding had started and they were too late. They didn’t take it seriously enough. They didn’t prepare and so they were left out.
Do those words preparation and being faithful imply salvation by works – something we have to do? Well, no, not when you understand it. Instead, it implies a lack of commitment. God is inviting us into a committed relationship with Him and His Son, Jesus Christ. He offers to forgive all our weaknesses and failures, but He does require one thing of us. And He will not let us in unless we are as committed to Him as He is to us, because the invitation is to a committed relationship. Can we understand that? God’s invitation is not to a casual relationship or a half-hearted relationship. It’s to a full commitment relationship.
How committed is God to us? If we can figure that out, then we’ll have an idea of what He expects back to Him.
Let’s look at Romans 8:31 and 32. Paul says:
Romans 8:31 – What, then, shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?
That’s how committed He is to us. He wants to give us everything. And He’s committed to that. But that’s how committed we must be to Him. In a world where people are so out of touch with nature and the reality of life that they won’t swat a fly, we really don’t get it. But here is a clue. Twelve of the original twelve disciples were murdered in Christ’s name. Peter told Jesus he was willing to go with Him to prison and to death. And that’s exactly what happened to him.
This commitment has been given a number of cheap cliché names, like “Give your heart to the Lord,” or “Live for Jesus.” And in making this commitment, is becomes passé, unimportant, diminished in our minds – just the opposite of what it really is. Whatever we call it, however, it’s about the turning over of one’s life to be a bondservant of Jesus Christ, who bought us with His own life. If we’ve made that commitment, our life is not our life any longer. It belongs to God. He bought us. Jesus is not interested in any other kind of relationship.
Why is it that some people, called by God, don’t respond in a committed fashion? Well, there are lots of reasons. Jesus says, “Sometimes the seed falls on stony ground.” It just can’t take root. That may be because a person is preoccupied with other things, like money or career. Or maybe they’re too rich and they’re worried about keeping what they’ve got, or too self-centered – the narcissistic Christian – or they don’t see the value of the calling from God, or maybe it’ll just take more time for some people – lots of reasons.
I talked to a man once who told me that when he was younger, he and friend ran out of a bank, each with their guns in one hand and a bag of money in the other, only to find that the guy driving the get-away car had left. It was after he found himself in a federal penitentiary that he began to ask if there wasn’t more to life than the way he’d been living it. Soon after that, Jesus Christ made Himself known to my friend. His prison time made him more open to Christ – plowed the ground, so to speak, so that it wasn’t stony and hard.
Looking at then, God calls lots of people. Look in John 4:35. Jesus said:
John 4:35 – “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months and then comes the harvest?’ Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes and see that the fields are white for harvest.”
Look up, those fields are all ready. Many are called, but what? Few are chosen. Why did God, of all people, then, choose you? Well, it’s easy, if we remember what Jesus said. He chose you because you responded to His invitation. But will you show up in time? Will you be dressed appropriately? In other words, are you committed?
I believe there are probably millions of Christians who think they’re ready, but who are not. Why would I think that? Because of all the warnings in the Bible. I’m not even sure I’m ready. I keep coming back to something I read about D. L. Moody, the founder of Moody Bible Institute. Someone asked him if he was afraid of all the things he did not yet know about the Bible. He responded that he was more afraid of things that he did know about the Bible.
Making a total commitment of any kind is hard for humans. But making one to God is terrifyingly difficult. It’s completely against our nature. But let’s just say, for the sake of the point, you’re committed. You’ve made the formal commitment to Him at baptism and you are truly willing to do anything God tells you to do that you can read in the Bible. You really put God first in your life. Maybe the answer to the question then is, God invites lots of people, but He let you in because you chose to come to His party. And then that leads us to the next question – For what purpose did God choose me? There’s one general answer for all of us and there’s one specific answer for each of us. We’ve already explained the general answer – that is, to become a part of God’s family. The answer to the next can be complex because we are diverse and God deals with each of us according to our uniqueness.
Let’s think about some examples. Paul was a very intense, black or white, kind of guy. So God struck him blind, told him he was stubborn, and asked him point blank, why was he persecuted His people? I call that kind of calling the two-by-four calling. It might have been possible for Paul to resist, but not likely.
When you were called, it may have been a bit more subtle for you. Why you accepted the invitation and committed is probably more for you to answer than for me. But now that you are committed, what is your purpose? As we see that God struck down Paul on the Damascus Road, it was not only to draw him into relationship to God, but also to give him a mission in his life. He told Paul he was a chosen vessel to bring Jesus Christ to the Gentile world.
What does God want you to do? Why did God call you, besides drawing you into relationship and preparing you for eternal life with Him in His family? What is your mission now? Well, let’s look at a scripture to gain some insight. Once we make a commitment to God and are baptized, we’re placed in the Church of God – that body of believers who are begotten by the Holy Spirit.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul tells us some interesting things about our part in the church. He makes an analogy, likening the church to a physical body with all the various body parts. He says each part is to play a specific role. For example, an eye doesn’t walk, it sees. A foot doesn’t see, it walks. He tells us there would be no body if it was made up of only eyes. Each part plays an important role. And there must be diversity. He tells us also that the parts that we humans might think the least important are, in His mind, some of the most. So those of us who are not the most prominent, or high profile in the church, should never think that we don’t have an important role to play. I mean, how much do you think about your spleen? All parts of the body are important.
But now look at a verse – 1 Corinthians 12:18.
1 Corinthians 12:18 – But as it is, God arranged the members of the body, each one of them as He chose.
God placed you in His church with a specific purpose in mind. And your mission is to fulfill that purpose. Beside the fact that you responded to his calling, he has a specific job for you in His mind in the overall scheme of His church. And when you fulfill your mission, you are also preparing yourself for a greater destiny in eternity with God. You are unlocking your full potential. It’s not about money. It’s not about status. It’s not about control. It’s not about how you look. It’s way beyond any physical earthly pursuit.
Let’s that’s it for today. In two weeks, we will think more about the mission God gives to each person who responds to His calling. There’s a lot to think about. And, if you’re not sure what your mission is that God has assigned you, be sure to check back when we cover, “What is your mission?” Until then, consider your calling.