What Does It Mean to Be "Called"?

2) The Universal Call to Work

Before we can discuss the possibility of God's guidance to a particular kind of work, we must recognize both that God created people to work and that he commands people to work to the degree they are able. At the beginning of the Bible, God builds work into the essence of humanity. He creates people in his own image, and he himself is a worker. He puts Adam in the garden for the purpose of working it. Later, in various parts of scripture, God commands all people to work to the degree they are able. Work continues through to the very end of the Bible. There is work in the Garden of Eden, and there is work in the new heave and new earth in Revelation.

Genesis 1:27-28—"So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.'"

Genesis 2:15, 19-20—"The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. ... So out of the ground the LORD God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner."

Exodus 20:9—"Six days you shall labor and do all your work."

2 Thessalonians 3:10—"For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat."

Revelation 21:24-26—"The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations."

Isaiah 65:21-22—"They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands."

Based on these passages, we could say that everyone is "called" to work, as long as we recognize that in this sense "called" really means "created" and "commanded" to work. God created you as a worker, and he commands you to work, even if he doesn't mail you a specific job offer. It can be difficult to discern the particular work God may be calling you to, but there can be no doubt that he made you as a worker and that he expects you to work, to the degree you are able.

3) Calling to Life, Not Only to Work

Although we are focusing on God's call to work, work is only one element of life. God calls us to belong to Christ in every element of our lives.

Colossians 3:17—"Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus."

Our jobs are not necessarily the most important aspect of our calling or our service in Christ's work of redemption. First, we must remember that work is not limited to paid work. The work God leads us to may be unpaid work, such as raising children or caring for a disabled family member or tutoring students after school. Even if we are called to paid work, God probably doesn't call many of us to jobs that would prevent us from also serving others through unpaid work.

Even if you have a paid job, the most important work God calls you to may be outside your job. Your job may meet your need for money — which in itself fulfills part of God's command to work — but it may not fulfill all the other purposes God has for your work. We have seen that caring for children and for aged or incapacitated people is a kind of work, and many people who do it also have another paid job. On the other hand, a so-called hobby could be the most important work God is leading you to. You might work at writing, painting, music, acting, astronomy, leading a youth group, volunteering at a historical society, maintaining a nature reserve or a thousand other kinds of work. If something like this is your calling, you will probably engage it in a more serious way than someone else to whom it is a leisure activity, yet you may still earn your living in some other way. There is a distinction between work and leisure. But any given activity could be work — paid or unpaid — for one person, and leisure for another.

12/22/2013 5:00:00 AM