I’m part way through a series exploring the language of ‘calling’ — especially in relation to Christian mission. You can read from the beginnig HERE.
So far I’ve suggested that the God who meets us in Jesus Christ calls his people — all his people — into his mission. He asks us to step out of our comfort zone and ‘Go’ — ultimately to the ends of he earth. This, I’ve argued, is part and parcel of his call to belong to him.
But what about the way some people speak of being called to mission in Africa or with a particular people-group (e.g., Buddhist nuns in Timbuktu)? What sense can we make of this?
I should probably warn you: because this is where the rubber really hits the road, I’m planning to take two posts to cover this. I’ll explore the positive things that can be said for his way of speaking in this post before registering some of my hesitations in the next.
So, what can be said in favour of speaking of being called to a specific mission field or work? Briefly:
- Speaking this wa can help keep in view God’s soveignty in our planning and decision-making. In particular, rather than speaking purely naturalistically about our background, gifts, and opportunities, it attempts to discern the work of God the Holy Spirit — often with an admirable reverence and urguency to please the living God
- In refusing to allow our decision-making or its results to be reduced to a rational, mechanical calculation — in which we simply crunch the numbers on personal gifting vis a vis need or opportunity — it perhaps recognises that our decision-making faculties (our hearts in biblical terms) need redeeming and sanctifying by the Lord Jesus.
- Best of all, it often expresses a willingness to take risks, step out of our comfortably settled and self-contained lives, and entrust ourselves to the same Heavenly Father who sent his Son for the sake of the world.
There’s obviously a lot to be said for speaking of a particular ‘call’ — to a place, people, or project…