Our Calling: Be with Christ

I was cleaning up recently after all of the holiday festivities and I picked up a stack of conversation cards that I have. On one of the cards is the question, “Is there something that you feel God might be calling you into this next year?” This got me thinking about my own calling. Heartland just installed elders and the question of “calling” has been a topic of extensive study for me personally over the last two years. But it’s not just prospective elders who should think about their calling; that is something we should all have on our minds as we head into the new year. So, what is our calling?

Our calling is different than what you might initially think it is. Even the question that I read on that conversation card doesn’t frame the question very well. When most of us hear the question about calling we often think about, what I would call, secondary callings. Secondary callings are extremely important and are what most people see us engaged in day in and day out. For example, worship leaders feel called by God to use the musical gifts that God has given them to lead worship from the stage. Doctors and nurses feel called to provide medical care to the sick. Missionaries feel called to take the Word of God to the world through the abilities that God has given them. These are all good things, but they all flow from our primary calling.

Our primary calling has nothing to do with the things we do. I struggle with the reality of this statement. We live in a culture that focuses almost entirely on the external things that we do. Therefore, we tend to relate to people the same way. For example, when we start a conversation with someone we typically ask them, “What do you do?” The focus is on our actions and we inevitably start defining ourselves based on those actions. Personally, I tend to define myself too often around the calling of a father and husband. That means that when my children misbehave or I am not living up to a particular expectation I think I should in regards to my marriage, I feel less than. My calling becomes about more than just something I am doing and begins to define who I am. When the secondary becomes the primary that is where problems begin to occur. Romans speaks to this same issue when Paul writes about trading the glory of God for lesser things. This runs contrary to God’s original design and leads to sin (see Romans 1:22-25). When we seek the gifts above the giver of the gifts, God receives no glory. When we pursue our own will and what we think we should do, God receives no glory. Scripture states time and again that what we do is not what is most important. Rather, our most important calling is to be with Christ. That is it. God receives glory when we work from our identity in Him to accomplish His will (see Ephesians 3:14-21).

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul opens the letter by giving thanks for this very calling. “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:4–9) We are not called into some type of career or lifestyle. Rather we are called to be in fellowship with Jesus. We are called out of darkness and into light. “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 light.” (1 Peter 2:9). As believers, our primary calling is to be with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That is the only foundation from which we will feel a sense of fulfillment in the secondary callings that God has placed on our lives.

So, as we begin a new year, I am not asking what you feel God is calling you to. I am not asking what your New Year’s resolution is. What I am asking is this: “Are you answering the primary call on your life to be with Jesus?” Let’s abide in Christ together this year and see the fruit from our time spent with Him in His presence. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4–5)

Because of Christ,

Austin Strange