“Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.” (Mark 3: 13 – 15)
This is the most concise summation of the two calls God makes upon us. The first is the call to come to Jesus and be with him. The second call is to be sent by him to share the word and power of the gospel.
One calls us to be aligned with Jesus. The second calls us to act as an ambassador under the authority of Jesus. One call command us to be saved by grace through faith. The second call commands us to serve by faith to share the grace of Jesus with others.
Romans 8: 28 – 30 describes these two calls: one has God orchestrating everything together for our good; the second has God organizing and ordering our steps together by His Spirit for the good of others.
The first call commands us to repent and believe in Jesus. The second calls us to represent and to bless others.
The first call is heralded out to all as a mandate from God, because “now (God) commands all men everywhere to repent.” (Acts 17: 30) The second call is delivered more discreetly and directly to our heart as we are given our personal assignment to forgive, to help, to demonstrate compassion, and to extend the comfort and mercy of the Lord.
If you are trying to fulfill the second call apart from being a response to answering the first call, you are likely to be perpetuating the good works you like to do instead of what God is asking of you. God will not ask you to be a witness for him without you first receiving the sign and seal of being with him – the Holy Spirit. As Jean Holmes said, “You’ve got to have a with-ness before you have a witness.”
You have to pay attention to how both calls of God are being fulfilled in your life. Most Christians have forgotten or have never learned how to emphasize the priority of answering the first call before you try to fulfill the second one. Some will try to tell you that you can come to realize the first through your efforts at following the second.
A whole generation (millennials) have been taught if you find a place to belong among serving people, you will eventually realize you have a place of belonging with God. But, in practical and pastoral terms, I’ve seen very little evidence where putting the cart before the horse gets you very far. What I’ve noticed most often when we try to switch the order of these two calls is we end up fooling ourselves and frustrating ourselves from ever experiencing the reality of a Spirit-filled faith experience with Jesus.
So, I ask you to pay attention and ask yourself these two questions. Have I responded to the call of Jesus to come to him and be with him? Secondly, do I now live each day, sent into it by Jesus?
“And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5: 15)