Almost every Sunday, I hear someone talk about being “called to ministry.” When I decided to align my life with the teaching of Jesus, I wanted to be called into ministry. I liked being around the other Christians I met with on Sunday. But right after church, I would start to notice a growing pit in my stomach because I had to go to work in less than a day. That pit has been a recurring problem for me.
For years, I’ve heard missionaries, pastors and others say they were “called to ministry” or “called to full-time ministry.” I know what they mean. They mean they felt an undeniable urge or desire, that could have come personally to them from God. They would pursue a career helping people follow Christ, most often paid by a church, denomination or individual supporters.
I get it. I understand what they mean. But when it’s said this way, it gets my attention. I do think God wants some of us to work for the church or for non-profit ministries. But I believe He wants us all helping people follow Christ. Look no further than Matthew 28:18-20.
In response, I hope Follower of One becomes a vibrant, growing community of people who live full-time helping others move one notch closer to Jesus. I believe:
- All who follow Jesus are called. The latter third of Romans 8 talks about predestination. Paul makes a progression. First, in Romans 8:28, God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, and are called according to His purpose. Those who love God are also those who are called. There is no distinction. These are equal. He goes on in Romans 8:29 to say that we were foreknown and predestined. And in Romans 8:30, Paul further breaks out the progression. All of us are called, justified and glorified. No one falls out and it’s all past tense. It’s a completed work. The rest of the chapter is the result of our completed calling. Ephesians 2:8-10 also states that everyone who is saved by faith is “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” We are saved for a purpose. We don’t work for our salvation, but we work because of it. We all have a job to do: those “good works” left for us by God. We’re all called.
- We’re all called to ministry. The word most commonly translated “minister” or “ministry” is also translated by the words “deacon” and “serve.” Service to others, and a giving of ourselves is the key way God makes himself known. It is how we help others move one notch closer to Jesus. When we give more than is reasonable, or prudent, we cause people to question. That questioning causes people to seek answers and with the help of the Holy Spirit come to Jesus. We are all called to serve others. Most of us are not “called” (or even able) to change jobs. See 1 Corinthians 7:17-40 for a treatment of this by the Apostle Paul. He’s talking more about marriage and slavery, but the point applies. We can (and maybe should) remain where we are.
- We’re all called to minister full-time. The world notices what Jesus followers do and what we do says more than what we say. In Acts 1:8 (NASB), the resurrected Jesus says “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses…” I first heard Mark Early on BreakPoint years ago say that Jesus wasn’t making a command. Rather he was stating a fact. Gods plan is that we, our lives more than our words, testify to our faith in Jesus. Whether we live according to what he said and did, we testify to our faith. How we live matters. Mark 10:45, Jesus says “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve…” The Greek word translated “serve” in Mark 10:45 is the same one often translated “minister.”
Follower of One will help people like me live my daily life in our calling from God. We were created for good works (Ephesians 2:10) and those exist today, right now for each of us. As we follow Jesus, we will see the good works and do them, and encourage others to do the same.
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