By Whaid Rose
LIVING IN A FALLEN WORLD
The sobering reality of life in a fallen world confronts us early in Scripture. In Genesis 4 we find a homicide, and by chapter 6 we read this sad commentary:
Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart (verses 5-6).
At that point it would have been justifiable for God to wipe the slate clean and start over. But instead, He spared Noah and his family and gave them the same charge He’d given to Adam and Eve: “So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1, NLT).
But sin has a corrupting influence. Its trace in one family was enough to make a mess of the new civilization. So, by Genesis 11 a rebellious group seeks to build a staircase tall enough to reach heaven!
GOD CALLED ABRAHAM AND GAVE HIM A PURPOSE
What God did next instructs us concerning the disciple-making process. He called one man to Himself and shaped his heart for the creation of a new race of people. We know this man as Abraham, though he was merely Abram when God called him. Here’s what God said to him:
The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”
GOD’S CALL AND PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE
The fulfillment of God’s purpose in creation now rests on the obedience of one man. It involved trading his extended family and familiar surroundings for a faith journey into unfamiliar far-off places. It began with childlike obedience to God’s call upon his life.
The subject of “the call” looms large on the Artios Christian College spectrum, as in the recent past, Artios has used a textbook by Os Guinness, titled, The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Central Purpose for Your Life.
Early in the book Guinness writes, “Deep in our hearts, we all want to find and fulfill a purpose bigger than ourselves. Only such a larger purpose can inspire us to heights we know we could never reach on our own. For each of us the real purpose is personal and passionate: to know what we are here to do, and why” (p. 3).
It’s like Mark Twain once said, “The two most important days in a person’s life are the day they were born, and the day they discover why.”
DISCOVERING YOUR PURPOSE
Discovering why we were born and spending ourselves in the fulfillment of that purpose is liberating. It creates in us a sense of invincibility in the Lord’s service.
Is this what inspired Jim Elliot and his missionary friends in their pursuit of the Auca Indians? Even at the risk of their lives? Elliot’s final journal entry before the Indians martyred him and his friends says it all: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Gracia Burnham, missionary to the Philippines, said something similar to her husband (Martin) during their long captivity at the hands of kidnappers (not an exact quote): If they kill us, we will at least die knowing we did what God called us to do.
LIVING FOR A CAUSE GREATER THAN OURSELVES
The Apostle Paul must have felt this when he declared from his jail cell knowing that at any moment he might be executed, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
Converted in a dramatic way and given a specific calling by God, Paul lived for a purpose so much bigger than himself. Absolutely nothing—not even death—could disturb his sense of confidence in Christ!
And it follows that when we live for a cause greater than ourselves, our lives continue to make an impact long after we’re gone.
RESPONSES TO GOD’S CALL
Thousands of years past his pilgrimage, we still admire Abraham and glean lessons from his life. Paul’s writings still instruct and inspire us, and we love and regard him as a mentor and friend. And we often quote Jim Elliot and talk about Martin and Gracia Burnham. We do this because something about their response to God’s call is irresistible.
As Os Guinness goes on to explain, “Calling is the truth that God calls us to Himself so that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service” (p. 4).
WHERE MINISTRY BEGINS AND ENDS
That’s where ministry begins and ends. So we don’t just admire those gone before us who’ve lived that way. We make the call central to who we are and everything we do. In the process our ordinary lives are transformed into extraordinary trophies of God’s grace.
For you see, “We’re not primarily called to do something or go somewhere; we are called to Someone.” And the good news is that “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (I Thessalonians 5:24).