Are all Christians “called” to missions?
International (MNN) — The question of God’s calling is a big one. Barna Group conducted a survey in 2013 asking Christians in the U.S. questions about God’s calling and their job. Only 34 percent of believers surveyed felt a sense of God’s calling in their work or career. The other two-thirds said they either were unsure (13 percent), hadn’t thought about it (34 percent), or that they didn’t sense God’s calling in their work (19 percent). Specifically evangelical Christians surveyed had a higher sense of calling in their work at 55 percent.
Having a sense of God’s calling in your work can be important as you strive to utilize your talents and passions for His glory. However, Carl Moeller, CEO of Biblica suggests if you only think about God’s calling in relation to a job or career, it could lead to thinking those employed as missionaries or evangelists are the only ones “called to do missions”.
“I think when we sometimes cop out and say, ‘I’m not called to be a missionary,’ or ‘I’m not called to be an evangelist,’ we’re really saying, ‘It makes me uncomfortable,’ and we’re really saying, ‘I don’t want to push my comfort zones.’ That’s not the issue. The issue is when we have biblical literacy to understand the Great Commission, when we understand what God’s Word says about this, we want to join with God and His work. Even if we’re not gifted, even if we may not be called full-time to be a missionary, we can certainly be a witness.”
He adds, “I have to laugh too, there are times when I ask my kids to clean up their rooms and they say, ‘Well, I just don’t feel called to clean up my room.’ Do you have to hear from God to do something as mundane as cleaning up your room? No, of course not! But calling enters our vocabulary because we know God does desire certain things and His will is important and we want to hear from that and we want to know what that’s all about.”
For a bit of context, Moeller explains the history behind the Church’s understanding of calling and how it has changed.
“You know, the idea of vocation or calling was related in the ancient Catholic Church to a sense of ‘separate from the world’ calling. Then when the reformation came along, Martin Luther and others redefined calling to be vocations and things we could do work-wise to bring glory to God’s name. It used to be, before the reformation, calling made the big separation between the clergy — the priests, the monks, the nuns — and the regular lay people. Reformation theology said no, calling is available to all of us. Everything we do, all of our lives are lived before a watching and loving God. So we’re all called to something, to some contribution to the Kingdom.
“I think it’s really important for us to look at calling then in two different ways. One is this reformation sense that we are all called to bring glory to God in everything we do. God does call some of us to missions and to missional activity that is specific, and in some cases, for a specific place and time. But we’re all called to be witnesses.”
Biblical literacy — basically, reading and understanding the Bible with faithful intentionality — is something Biblica emphasizes. And Moeller says biblical literacy is critical for reference points on this concept of calling and missions.
“Paul the Apostle himself was called by Jesus Christ, and he didn’t stop doing business. He was a tent-maker. He actually went to different cities to do business, but at the same time he was involved in missions, and he was involved with the Great Commission that we are all given as believers. So I think biblical literacy helps us understand that.
“In another place, Paul writes to Timothy and says, ‘Do the work of an evangelist.’ It’s really important there to realize that not all of us are necessarily called to be evangelists, but we are to do the work of evangelists. I think we sometimes get it mixed up. When we don’t study the Bible, we don’t look at what the Bible really says, [and] we can get confused that our calling has to be where we’re gifted. And where we’re gifted means that’s where we’re going to have our calling.”
With this in mind, you can start living out God’s calling to serve in whatever you do with a Great Commission mindset.
“Let’s all be missionaries wherever we are. Let’s get that reformation view of every vocation, every calling is a valid calling to serve God. But at the same time, let’s get involved and let’s read God’s Word for all it’s worth. Let’s understand what He has to say to us there, and when we do that, I really believe we’ll all see God at work in our lives and we’ll all respond to the calling He has for us.”