Recalling the Calling
Telford Work, Westmont College
Santa Barbara Community Church Men's Retreat
June 5, 2004
Sources: Lesslie Newbigin, The Open Secret: An Introduction to the Theology of Mission, rev. ed. (Eerdmans, 1995); Rupert Davies, "Calling" and "Vocation," Westminster Dictionary of Theology (Westminster, 1980).
Calling in Scripture
What do you do well?What is
Where in society are you marketable?
What do you like to do or find fulfilling?
What do people around you want or need you to do?
your vision God's will
yourself God's people
realize your potential accomplish God's purpose?
Sometimes the crossed-out considerations play a part [Joseph, David, Daniel, Esther], but sometimes not [Moses, Isaiah, Mary, Paul].
Why the Disconnect from Then to Now?
They had social obligations; we have social freedoms.
They were forced by circumstances; we follow opportunities.
They thought communally; we think individualistically.
And Why Else?
The Son's mission is to glorify the Father by reconciling the world to himself.
Jesus refuses to put his own vision, interests, and goals first
(as in the wilderness, in the Garden of Gethsemane, and in Phil. 2:5-11).
God calls him and his followers to discipleship, mission, and salvation, not to individual or social self-realization.
What Does Christian Calling Look Like in America?
What is your gift mix?Hold it these sound spiritual but look uncannily like American questions with a Christian veneer!
What doors is God opening?
What gives you joy?
Where do you feel God leading you?
But How Do I Get Outside That Way of Thinking?
Know, trust, follow, and abide in Jesus Christ!
We can adapt a list from Lesslie Newbigin (The Open Secret, 174ff) to explore the basis, shape, and point of Christian life in the world:
So What Might Christian Calling Really Look Like in America?
Where do you find yourself bearing fruit of the Holy Spirit?
Whom is God making your neighbor?
How do (or could) you image Jesus Christ?
Where in your world is Jesus' lordship still obscure, and his treasures unreconciled to him or each other?
What About Making a Living and All That?
Of course! life is the scope of Jesus' mission.
Careers, neighborhoods, and other cultural circles are objects of mission, not just fields or means of support.
First example: My daughter's ER visit.
Second example: My courses are signs of the Kingdom.
1. How does your notion of calling compare and contrast with biblical calling?
2. How are you on the 'frontier' of the Kingdom of God?
3. How is the Spirit "taking what is Christ's [what belongs to the Father] and declaring it to you"?
4. How open are you to being changed by these revelations (as Peter was changed by Cornelius' conversion)?
... and while we're at it ...
5. Where do you find yourself bearing fruit of the Holy Spirit?
6. Whom is God making your neighbor?
7. How do (or could) you image Jesus Christ?
8. Where in your world is Jesus' lordship still obscure, and his treasures unreconciled to him or each other?
(Let your application of these questions range wide, without drifting away from the biblical stories that shape them.)