Category: Followership (page 1 of 5)

Stop Obsessing Over your Call from God

Call

Like many Christians, I used to worry a lot about my “calling”. Most of the worry has to do with the pressure leaders place on the importance of finding and fulfilling that “one thing” we are supposed to do for God. These leaders never intend that to be the case. Most, if not all, simply want us to realize and accept the invitation that God extends to us to join Him in His work. Unfortunately, it can often come off in a way that it is the most important thing we need to figure out. Almost as if not figuring it out makes us ineffective in God’s kingdom.

So we wrestle with it and pray about it. Then we seek counsel on it and listen real hard to hear God call us. And we get frustrated because we do not hear it as clearly as Moses did with the burning bush thing. But the thing is, I think it is a lot easier than all that.

The Clarity of Our Call

In fact, I think He has pretty clearly outlined our calling in the bible. For the last few years I’ve had this conversation with people: lots of young adults, my kids, newly married couples, my middle-aged friends. After awhile I started to become more frustrated with how none of us realize how simple God has made it. So I decided to write a book about it. Well, the book is actually about how Jesus only gave us three specific commands and how one of them, I think, is the key to obeying the others. But, the undertone of the book deals with our calling as followers of Jesus. I’m hoping to have the book done by the end of August and ready for release by early spring 2018, but until then, I wanted to share this secret. Ready?

As Christians, we all have one calling. Yep, you read that correctly. We are all called to one singular thing and it is the same for all of us. Actually, to be fair, our calling is truly made up of a few different elements. Specifically it is made up of three commands and one commission. That is our calling, obedience to three commands and one commissioning. So what are they?

Three Commands and a Commission 

I know this seems too easy to be true, but it really is not. I am confident that God was clear about two things: 1) how to get to Him (spoiler, Jesus) and 2) what we are supposed to do after we confess Jesus, so others can get to Him. Number two is our calling. It is THE thing that God is calling us all into. We, as Christians, all share in the exact same call of Christ. Here they are:

He commands us to:

  • Love God – Matthew 22:37
  • Love Our Neighbor – Matthew 22:39
  • Love Other Christians – John 13:3

He commissions us to:

  • Be my Witness and Make Disciples – Matthew 28:19 & Acts 1:8

Jesus was pretty clear at the end of Matthew 22, after he acknowledged the two most important commands. In verse 40 He said, “All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” He was saying that our obedience to everything in the Old Testament depends on our understanding of and obedience to these two commands. Then He gave His followers the new command to love each other. I think there is a lot in that, but you will need to get the book to read my thoughts on that. In the big picture those commands are not always easy to follow, but I think they are pretty simple to understand.

After identifying the commands that we ought to be obeying, He commissioned us to be His witnesses to an unbelieving world and teach others to obey those commands. That’s our calling. Simple, right? I know some of you are saying, “But, I know my calling is to youth ministry.” So let’s talk about that.

Your Call to Youth Ministry

Really it can be any call, youth, any other vocational pastorate, para-church ministry, or even Taco Bell. I am not suggesting that God is not calling you to any of those things; there is a high likelihood you are, again I am not arguing that. But, the context & setting in which we do “ministry” is inconsequential if we do not accept loving & going as our call. More and more, I am certain that when you understand and accept that this is what God is calling us to, He will direct that call toward a specific group or cause. Chances are you probably already care about the thing you feel “called” to; you just need to align it with what God has already commanded and commissioned us to do.

My hope is that this frees someone who feels like they are not doing something “impactful” for the Kingdom. Here is the truth, the most important thing you can do for God, and other people, is whatever you are doing for them right now, as long as it is done with a lovingness that introduces people to Jesus. If you are not doing anything right now, just pick something. What you do and where you do it is often of little concern. So, just do something that puts the love of Jesus on display for others to see and feel. That is your call.

photo: Flickr/Sean MacEntee

The Continuous Call to Follow Jesus

follow

I was recently studying the passage of scripture about Jesus restoring Peter after his denial of Him (John 21:15-19). I was studying it for another post I was writing and discovered a couple things that warrant their own posts. One was in verse 19. It says, “He said this to signify by what kind of death he would glorify God. After saying this, He told him, ‘Follow Me!’”

Peter’s Backstory

To make the point, jogging our memory with a little back story refresher is necessary. We are first introduced to Peter in Matthew 4:18. That passage tells us that Peter and his brother, Andrew, were fishing when Jesus walks by them. Upon seeing them, Jesus tells them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At that invitation, Peter dropped his nets and followed Jesus for the next three years.

Those three years would reveal deep truths to Peter. He would learn what faith is and gaze upon the visible image of his invisible God. I can hardly imagine what it must have been like. His time with his savior would provide the conviction for Peter to say, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away” (Matthew 26:33). But Peter would fall away and fall away hard.

Peter’s Call… Again

While the other disciples fled and hid, Peter outright denied multiple assertions that he was with Jesus. After Jesus’ crucifixion, we can assume Peter did not see a way back to Jesus, because he returned to the life Jesus had called him out of. And then we see Jesus, likely on the same shore, with Peter performing the same task. After reinstating Peter, Jesus tells him, for the second time, “Follow Me!”

Jesus’ Call to Us

And, this is where Peter ends up; with Jesus offering the same call to him as He did three years prior. The good news is, He offers the same to us. No matter what you have done or how far you think you have fallen, He still says, “Follow me.” His is a call we get to answer every day. And as sure as darkness will come, His merciful call to follow Him, comes more.

photo: Flickr/Simon Matzinger

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin… Except Ours

LoveIn the name of love, we are willing to do things that we never dreamed. For instance, I love my wife so much I willingly endure temperatures in our home that are on par with the outer boundaries of hell, because she is cold…even during summer. What can I say? I really love my wife.

Built for Love

At the end of the day, we are built for love. We are designed to give and receive love. Being that God is love and He desires to have us as His beloved; it follows that we are created to receive His love and extend it to others. Thankfully, many Christians understand this calling – extending and being His love. I’m hearing more and more people affirm that we are called to love others, and this is a good thing. What concerns me is what else can be said.

Love filled Hate

A common comment from people of the church is: “I hate the sin, but I love the sinner.” My response to this is always, “No you don’t.” Please understand, I recognize the good intention in this statement, because I use to say this very thing. What I understand now is that we error in believing that hate and love can coexist. “Hate the sin, but love the sinner” is found…nowhere in the Bible. This teaching isn’t in the Bible. While the bible definitely makes the case that God hates sin, it actually says evil (Ps 97:10), it more often points to hating our own sin, rather than sin in general, because it is our sin that keeps us from Him (Isa 59:2). And when we look at Jesus’ ministry, it was not part of His teachings. What Jesus did say was “Love God and love others.”

Your Plank

Again, He did mention “the speck” (or sin – Mt 7:3-5) in your brother’s eye. However, it was not for the purpose the church typically references. When we use that scripture to call out someone else’s sin, we disregard that Jesus first said deal with the plank in our own eye. In other words, that huge board! I mean, the guy was a carpenter, so I’m sure He was pretty solid on what a plank of wood looked like. His point was, deal with the huge sin in your own life, before considering the sin in your brother’s.

Their Speck

One of the key words in this passage of scripture is brother. After dealing with your own sin, Jesus was talking about dealing with the sin of other believers, not people outside of His followers. Sadly, we use this scripture to justify naming the sin of people who do not even believe they should be following Jesus. Then we wonder why they won’t come to our church. I’ve never seen anyone come to Jesus after a Christian said, “Jesus hates your sin, but He loves you, so follow Him.”

Hate Crushing Love

Here is the truth. You cannot truly love someone when you are focused on what you hate about them, and what they’re doing wrong. If we, as The Church, truly desire to love others as we love ourselves (Mk 12:31), we need to recognize that with God, hate never precedes love. It just cannot. Love cannot have anything to do with hate – except to crush it. Love stands alone and conquers hate. Remember you are built for love. This is the way of Jesus.

If you enjoyed this post, please use one of the buttons to share it. Thanks.
Photo Credit: A Mormon Enigma
Older posts

© 2017 BrucePagano.com

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

%d bloggers like this: