Wednesday, March 3, 2010

God's Call or Role Playing?

The idea of “calling” is profound: God Himself, the maker of the universe, made us and calls us to exercise particular gifts and talents to His glory. Someone who loves teaching, and is good at it, should teach. Someone who loves building things, and is good at it (compare yourself to me and you’ll be fine), should build.

Yet what does it mean—honestly now—to do these things to God’s glory?

Consider Romans 12:6-8: Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

We often need to often ramp things up a notch: Don’t just contribute, do it generously. Don’t just lead, do it with zeal. Don’t just show mercy, do it cheerfully.

I think that the way we know we are really living out our calling to God’s glory is if we are using our gifts in a way that is not routine, but infused with the joy of the Lord and (dare I say) a sense of mission.

If I’m working a job that seems to match my gifts, but feel little zeal for the task, then I may be performing a function but am I living out a calling? If I’m serving in the church but it’s rather routine and unchallenging, I may have found a niche—but have I found my calling? If I am using my gifts in a way that helps me escape having to share my faith, or take a stand for my faith, how can I say I'm using these gifts to God’s glory?

What I am absolutely not saying is that we should climb the ladder to the highest rung of outward success. For example, I am not saying that the person with musical gifts should give up their gig at the mission or the nursing home so that they can perform on a more suitable (i.e., bigger) stage.

In fact, I am saying the exact opposite: that to use our gifts for God’s glory should lead us on a downward path of more humble, more challenging, more sacrificial service. It’s what leads construction workers to build homes for the needy. It’s what leads some academics, lawyers, and politicians to align with Christian causes that shut them out of the halls of power. It’s what led Paul to Macedonia and Jesus to the cross.

Oops, did I say the cross?

Well—I myself am no example of outstanding sacrifice. But I do pray that I will not confuse having a role with finding a calling. I pray that I will not simply use my gifts mechanistically, but zealously and joyfully. I pray that God will use my gifts to make contact with lost, lonely, and dying people who need the gospel. I pray that I won’t get too comfortable. I pray that I’ll honor Jesus by faithfully living out my calling, not by role playing.

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