I’m in the midst of exploring the language of ‘calling’ and the question of whether God calls people to specific fields of tasks in his mission.
Having established that our God is a calling God, this still leaves open the question:
Does God call people into mission (or any specific vocation for that matter)?
My answer I think is ‘Yes’ … with a twist. You see, I don’t think the call to belong to God can be separated from the call to take part in his global mission. So God doesn’t only call some people into mission; he calls all his people.
Let’s stay with the calling of Jesus’ first disciples for the moment. Their call to leave their work (their fishing nets, tax booths, etc) and follow Jesus was at the same time their commissioning to a new kind of work. “I will make you fishers of people”, Jesus says. If I may speak this way, conversion and commission happen at once.
The pattern is no different with the Apostle Paul. Meeting the risen Lord Jesus led to his conversion and his commission as Apostle to the Gentiles (complementing Peter’s comission as Apostle to the Jews). And although his specific commission is unique, the fact that his conversion and his commissioning went together aren’t.
What implications are there in this for us — especially as we wrestle with whether or not we’re called into mission?
Well, to begin with, we must recognise that our conversion brings with it a commission. God doesn’t simply turn us to himself for our own sake. He plans to use us in his worldwide mission. All of us.
This is inevitable given the message — or perhaps better the person — we’re converted to. Jesus is not just the Saviour who came to die for my sins. He’s the Lord who lays (rightful) claim to God’s world — every single person and power, all are reconciled by his blood shed on the cross.
And the work he’s doing now, by the powerful agency of his Spirit, is implementing this claim and this reconciliation. It’s mission!
So while we may be genuinely converted and yet still take us a while to work this out, this is reality. And if we belong to Jesus, then we’re part of his mission.
Our God calls his people into mission.