is God calling me into mission? (in place of a conclusion)

I’m going to leave off (I won’t say conclude, because I’m not sure I’ve reached any hard and fast conclusions) these reflections about the language and experience of calling.

After framing the issue, I explored Jesus’ general call to belong to him — the characteristically divine ‘commanding invitation’ to recognise reality and to discover our truest and best selves in trusting and following him. If you’d like to take this thought much further, I can highly recommend John Webster’s 2005 Scottish Evangelical Theology Society lecture on call and discipleship, which you can listen to HERE.

Then I suggested that it’s a necessary implication of heeding this call to be swept up in God’s mission in the world — to ‘Go’, leaving our comfortable and settled lives and going, ultimately, to the ends of the earth.

Then I tried inconclusively to weigh up the pros and cons of the way some people speak of being called to a specific mission field or work. There were lots of loose ends here. And I haven’t resolved for myself how helpful it is to speak this way.

But maybe it’s oddly fitting that my thinking about ‘calling’ resists being conclusively settled and having all its loose ends tied up. Perhaps I find myself disoriented by the epistemological echo of Christ’s own irruptive call — a call that for all its out-of-the-blueness also speaks of the tantalising prospect of peace and rightness in treading the difficult path our Saviour holds before us.

In that vein, I can hardly think of a better way to finish than to share with you a prayer our congregation prayed together a couple of Sundays ago (it’s from the Anglican collection of liturgical resources, A Prayer Book for Australia):

Christ, whose insistent call
disturbs our settled lives:
give us discernment to hear your word,
grace to relinquish our tasks,
and courage to follow empty-handed
wherever you may lead,
so that the voice of your gospel
may reach to the ends of the earth, Amen.

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11 comments

    1. Hey, it wasn’t a criticism of you! You’re an APBA-quoting, non-concluding, emergent emerging post-modern Melbournian now ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. Thanks, Tom! I think I’ve come up with an appropriate conclusion now though — one I’ll borrow from Bonhoeffer: “When Christ calls, he bids us come and die”. How does that sit with what I’ve said?

  1. I have been enjoying your series on being called to mission.I think you could have tapped into Paul’s experience of wanting to go to Spain, but the door was constantly closed and God called him to go to Macedonia.

    Within that framework, we can try and do a variety of things and see what door opens or closes and allow God to direct us in that way.

    1. Thanks, Craig. You’re right — and Anne-Sophie highlighted some of that in her comments on my penultimate post.

      I’m sure there’s lots of interesting work to be done on the interplay between the language of calling and other language we find in the New Testament!

  2. Go the APBA. It seems to be universally criticised, ignored, or just treated as suspect, but it contains so much gold. I miss it. I must be getting old.

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