Sunday, September 17, 2006

Romans: The Call

I think that each of us have felt a call to something at some point in our lives. Someone's occupation, especially one which lies very close their heart, is called their calling. I think of certain occupations such healthcare, teaching, or professional sports, and even avocations like volunteer service with the elderly, motherhood, and homeschooling. In many of these instances, people will tell you that they always knew that they were meant to pursue that particular thing.

But how do we know when we are getting the call? How do we respond?

How do you know if someone wants you to do something? You often get a call on the phone, asking you to meet them for lunch, to help with a certain project, or to babysit their child. You respond by doing it, or not doing it. With God's call, it's often different. I've heard some fantastic stories of God bringing certain people into certain situations repeatedly so that there was no doubt that He was calling them--into a faith relationship with Himself. But oftentimes it's not that obvious, especially if you aren't receptive.

Paul was called by God on the road to Damascus, when he was still a persecuting Pharisee named Saul. It was certainly one of those fantastic stories (Acts 9). He speaks with the authority of experience. Because of that, his words about his call are sure and certain (emphasis mine).
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—-the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:1-7

Look back at the things that Paul said that he was called to or for:
1. to be an apostle (to carry the message of Christ into the world)
2. to call others into an obedient faith relationship with Jesus

Then he reminds those in Rome (and also us thousands of years later) of their calling:
1. called to belong to Jesus Christ
2. called to be saints (a general term for a member of the Christian faith)

I have felt several very distinct calls in my life as well. I have felt a call from the Lord to change sinful habits. As I looked over the list of "calls" mentioned in these versus, I wondered if this fit in with the kind of call that Paul is talking about. I think it fits into two places--he calls people into the obedience that comes from faith. Additionally, since I belong to Jesus Christ, I am conforming more and more to His likeness as a part of that calling.

I have also felt the call into service or ministry several times. I don't remember a specific call to faith, because my testimony of coming to faith (which I guess I should share sometime) was more a process as opposed to a blinding light as Paul experienced, but I hope that some of you do remember that call to faith. Perhaps it was those circumstances mentioned above, of continuing to cross paths with people who loved the Lord. Maybe it was the thumping in your chest that was hard to ignore when you heard about Jesus--at Sunday School, a church service, or from a friend. Maybe you are feeling that thumping now, because you are unsure if you have ever entered into a relationship of faith and obedience to Jesus Christ. Yes, you know who Jesus is, you love Him, but are you submitting to His Lordship in your life?

Paul definitely submitted. He left his former life behind. He gave up power, position, old relationships, and his home and his way of life. He surrendered all. What is God calling you to right now? His call does require a response. Is He calling you to take the step into a relationship of faith with Him (for more info on that read this post) ? Perhaps He's calling you into something outside your comfort zone--a new service, a new friendship, or a new level of commitment to Him. Do you trust Him enough to say yes?

Keep reading in Romans chapter 1 if you want to study more before I address my next topic.

Next up: Romans: My Righteousness

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Romans can seem very "doctrine-y." Sometimes differing denominational practice doesn't seem to add up, like the issue of predestination (where God has already chosen beforehand who will come to know and follow Him) and free will (meaning that we have total choice). I will try not to teach from one particular viewpoint, but based on this text that we are studying. I challenge you to try to put your own suppositions aside as you study along. Instead of evaluating whether or not your ingrained knowledge matches up with what we are reading in the Bible, determine if what you assume to be true matches up with what the Bible actually says. If you disagree, I am up for a respectful differing of opinion or questions or clarifications (in the comment section).

Index of Romans posts

5 comments:

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

Very true---and I'm also learning that the Holy spirit will call me away from something that isn't biblical or right.

Jennifer you have a gift of explaining things very well.

Katrina said...

I bet you are a fantastic BSF teacher - love how clear and focused this post is.

One thing I've found about God's "calls" to me in the area of service or specific action is that, if I am genuinely seeking Him, He makes things clear to me. If I'm consistently spending time in His word and prayer, I'll feel that little nudge - remembering an announcement in the bulletin about a church ministry that needs volunteers, or finding that someone I know who's going through a rough time comes repeatedly to mind. While God often speaks with a "still, small voice," I don't think He intends for His calls to us to be obscure or hard to find. They're there waiting, and will be found by us when we are seeking.

R.G. said...

Very inspirational and great food for thought! You're right -- His call demands obedience. Your post is helping me clarify something I need to do right now. Listen for God's voice and discern what He is calling me to do. What action I need to take. This passage in Romans is perfect for considering this!

Heather said...

Jennifer--This is wonderful. Two things, if you haven't already I would suggest you consider joining us on Fridays for What is the shape of you Faith. I mention it because this Friday is writing your testimony.

Also, if you haven't already read it you might enjoy The Art of Listening Prayer by Seth Barnes. From what you have written here I think you ould enjoy it.
Thank you for sharing this, I hope you will join us Fridays, I think you would e an encouragement to others.

Katherine@Raising Five said...

Thanks for sharing this. I love that - a call to relationship. Our deepest longing He wants to fulfill if we will trust Him.