During the time of the Iranian Hostage Crisis, in 1979 Greg Livingstone was asked to give a "missions minute" at a large evangelical church on the East Coast. Greg was from a dysfunctional home, raised in five foster homes, and was called out as a missionary to the Muslim World, who later became the founder of “Frontiers.”
Since he had only one minute to speak, he decided to ask them only two questions. The first one was, "How many of you are praying for the 52 Americans hostages being held in Iran?" 4000 hands went straight up and he said, "Praise the Lord! Now, put your hands down and let me ask you another question…How many of you are praying for the 42 million Iranians being held hostage to Islam?" four hands went up.
He said, "What are you guys? Americans first and Christians second? I thought this was a Bible-believing church!" This rebuke to the church by Livingstone served as a wake up call and helped the church members to see one of the callings of Christians is to pray for the lost in this case to pray for Muslims so that they might come to know the truth.
In our vision meeting I asked a question saying who are we? What I meant by asking that, was what do we believe and what are our core doctrines. One person started saying, “We are Christians.” It was obvious right! Of course we are Christians, yet how many times we forget that fact and behave like everybody else in the world, at times worse than the unbelievers. If you call yourself a Christian then from where to where were you called? To what were you called for? Does everyone has a calling or only a special few? How many callings are there? In order to “CONSIDER YOUR CALLING” Let’s read Ephesians 4:1-16.
I. THE BIG PICTURE OF EPHESIANS:
In order to get the essence of the letter of the Ephesians we must read the entire book in one sitting. For want of time here is the big picture. The Apostle Paul wrote Ephesians to the churches in Ephesus and the surrounding churches in Asia around AD 60 to display the scope of God’s eternal plan for all humanity, for Jews and Gentiles a like. The first three chapters focus on what Christians should believe, unfolding the glorious riches of God in Christ. The last three chapters explain how Christians should live both as individuals, families and as a Church.
One of Paul’s themes in Ephesians is that of unity and God’s purpose, “to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. Because of this unity, Paul wrote, all Christians are one family in Jesus, and they should act with love toward each other. He gives believers instructions on how to “live a life of love.”
The big picture of the passage we read is to, “Consider Your Calling.” When we hear the word, “Calling” we tend to think that it is only meant for special, super spiritual Christians, not for all of us. But that is not entirely true. The word “calling” is a loaded term. It encompasses all aspects of Christian living. This calling can be put into three categories. The Christian calling (general), the individual calling (personal), the divine calling (to serve the church). Let’s explore what these callings are and how they affect us.
I. THE CHRISTIAN CALLING (General) (Vs 1-6)
When we accepted Christ as our Savior, a couple of things have happened to us. Firstly, we have been “called out of darkness into his wonderful light.” I Peter 2:9. In I Thess 5:5-6, “You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then let us not be like others who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.”
These two scriptures tell us that before we accepted Christ we belonged to a different world that is being ruled by Satan. Praise God, by His grace He has called us out of the clutches of bondage into marvelous freedom in the kingdom of Light whose King is our Lord Jesus. Therefore we should now live our lives differently.
The second thing that happened to us is that, we have been called into the family of God. Ephesians 2:19, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.” In John 1:12, “Yet to all who received him to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
The “family of God” is a wonderful concept. It is a privilege to belong to the family of God, where we have God as our father, Jesus as our elder brother and we have other brothers and sisters in the family. In any earthly family the parents would have certain expectations of their children right? In fact every family has its unique values and culture. For example in our family we apologize and ask for forgiveness when we hurt each other, we value gracious communication, respect and right relationships. You too have certain values in your family
Similarly in Christ’s family too there are expectations. You just can’t act the way you like to. No matter who you are, what gender, race, or religious background you are from, if you call yourself a Christian then you are a part of God’s family which means you have all the privileges of being a son or a daughter but along with that also come several responsibilities.
Like a father the Apostle Paul gives a charge to all Christians saying, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” Elsewhere in 1 Cor 1:26, he says, “consider your calling.”The Greek verb for calling means: To call, to summon, invitation, and vocation. The word vocation means: “A person’s employment or main occupation, regarded as worthy and requiring great dedication.”
Similarly the Christian calling, is a worthy calling and requires great dedication to walk according to our calling. Therefore we must “consider our calling.” The word consider means, “think carefully about (something), typically before making a decision.” In other words as Christians we must pay careful attention to how we live our lives.
The apostle Peter too shares the same conviction. “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 2 Peter 1:10. We now know where we were called from and where we are called to. We are called from darkness into light, from the family of Satan to the family of God.
What are we called to? We are called to: Be humble, gentle and patient, loving and bearing with one another, maintaining unity in the bond of peace, hope in one Lord, faith and baptism.(Ephesians 2:4-5). We are called to be free (Gal 5:13), We are called to be Holy ( 2 Tim 1:9).
There is another, not so very popular area where we are called to. We are called to suffer for being Christians in this world. I Peter 2:21, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps.” Therefore let’s not be surprised when we are hated by the world, or suffer verbal, emotional, mental and even physical abuse by people because of our faith, let’s not be surprised and grow weary instead let’s rejoice in the fact that we are actually participating in the sufferings of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. If we do not give up but endure through these sufferings we receive eternal rewards.
Why are we called out? What is that special purpose? I Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who call you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” The reason why Christ has set us free from the bondage of Satan is not that we become free and enjoy the good life that comes being a Christian. That is only one part of that calling.
The other part of that calling is found in 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” How can we bring glory to his name? By proclaiming praises, that is why it is so important that we come each Sunday to thank him for His great gift of salvation, worship him and give him praise for all that he has done in our lives. Since our God is a God of excellence, He expects excellence from us. So that through all we do, His name may be glorified.
You may say, well this all sounds good pastor in theory, but where do we put these theoretical concepts to work? If you want to live out your Christianity in the world first you must start practicing these Christian concepts at home. That is a great place to start. Unfortunately many Christian homes in our country are in disarray. There has been so much dysfunctionality in homes these days. Children growing up in such homes have no role models. No wonder, when we come to Church, we bring our childhood trauma and the dysfunctionality with us, therefore instead of loving one another we end up hurting one another.
Then we are surprised and get agitated when the world looks at us and call us hypocrites. They saying “we talk the talk but never walk the talk.” What are the ramifications of our failure to live up to our general calling as Christians? Over the centuries, the hypocritical lives of Christians brought much disgrace and shame to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and hindered the furtherance of the Gospel. The greatest threat against Christianity does not come from the world but from some unscrupulous Christians within the family.
Paul writing to Romans laments how the name of God is being ridiculed among the Gentiles because of certain Jews who claimed to know the law yet were not fully obeying it. Romans 2:24, “For, as it is written, the name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles because of you.” In closing, what a sobering reality it is, we as Christians can either glorify God by the way we live or dishonor his name through our poor life style.
I want us to pause and examine ourselves in the light of our calling as Christians. Have you been glorifying God or dishonoring His name. The Christian calling without exceptions applies to all those who call themselves Christians. The Christian calling reminds us, where we have come from, to whom we now belong, and how are we to live in this world. It is time, you walk in manner worthy of your Calling. Consider your Calling! Amen.