Blog - Grasping Vocation
Just Called? Or Called and Sent?Monday, August 12, 2013
Two main considerations influenced my selecting the domain name for this website. First, it was available. Second, I wanted to widen the concept of calling. For the most part, "the only people who speak of being ‘called of God’ are ‘full-time’ missionaries and pastors,” according to Paul Stevens in The Other Six Days (p. 72).
Calledintowork.com would, I hoped, point to the truth that God assigns people to all kinds of work. Since naming the website, I have come to see that those in the work world need to understand not only calling but also sending.
Scripture uses call and send in the same ways we use those terms in speaking. If you’re in the next room and I want you to come to me, I call you. Then, if I want you to return to that room on an errand, I send you. Thus, calling and sending correspond to those action-words God so often uses—come and go.
In his invitation for us to leave the world’s ways and come to him through faith in Christ, God calls. In his assignments for us to go back into the world on his errands, God sends. All Christians—no matter what kind of work they do—are called, called to belong to God, called to holy living. Once we have responded to that call to come, God then sends all of us to places and tasks he sees as vital to his overall mission.
In both Testaments Scripture describes God’s work assignments with forms of the word send. Whether the called one did what is normally considered spiritual work or not, the words are usually send, sent, or sending. For example, the following sent ones did not pursue "religious” work: Abraham (Acts 7:4); Joseph (Gen. 45: 5, 7, 8); Ananias (Acts 9:17). God sent others into more seemingly "religious” roles: Samuel (I Sam. 16:1); Ezekiel (Ezek. 2:3-4); Paul (Gal. 1:1).
The supreme example of one being sent on God’s errand? Jesus. And each follower of Jesus is sent into the world just as he was. In his own words to his Father: "As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (Jn.17:18). All believers have been called to come to God. All are sent to go into the world.
The work world—which includes both paid and unpaid work—is a large and important part of that world God cares so much about. Some work in the world involves more outwardly religious activities—evangelizing, shepherding, teaching the Word, and so on. Other work on planet earth carries no visible marks of piety—repairing cars, designing earthquake-resistant buildings, or making computer chips.
God sends those he identifies as the "light of the world” into every part of his world that lies darkened under the long shadow cast by sin. For some, the sending is dramatic. Paul’s, for instance, came with a burst of light, an audible voice, then three sightless days. But throughout biblical history, God has sent others (think of Joseph and Esther and Daniel), through the less spectacular unfolding of circumstances—sometimes pleasant, often painful.
Imagine . . .
. . . the differences it would make if we could erase the perception that only religious professionals are called.
. . . the influence of the church in the world if all believers knew that God had called them to himself and then sent them to do their work—whether that work involved plumbing or pastoring.
Do you agree those ought to happen? Do you think we could begin to move toward them by speaking and teaching the calling-sending words the way the Bible uses them?