What do I even think about when the phrase flickers in my mind?
For a long time, it was the image of a pastor – preaching his heart out without fear or favour, only for the glory of God.
It was the image of a monk – casting away his own desires and dreams to consecrate his life for God.
It the image of a missionary – going through unimaginable difficulties to proclaim the good news even in the direst of circumstances, going so far as to pay the ultimate price if necessary.
But it was not the image of myself – though I call myself a Christian – to do the things I just mentioned above. As if only a certain group of Christian were special, and had the gifts and calling to do said things.
“That is not my calling,” I deceive myself.
“I will just do my part and leave the grand plans to those who are anointed.”
As if Christians are not all called to live as sons of God (Matt 6:9), servants of the Lord (Luke 17:10), and slaves to righteousness (Rom 6:18). And although I describe them in three ways, they mean the same thing.
As if Christians are not all called to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I (Jesus) have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:19-20).
As if Christians are not called to put to death the old self, and put on the new self – to, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Col 3:5-17).
As if the kingdom of God is not at hand – as if the end times were not near – as if we, not Jesus, are Lord of our lives –
As if I knew not, let alone understood, the eschatological reality of the world we live in.
According to Packer, we dither to serve Christ in cheerful self-abandonment because of unbelief.
The Lord said, “the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.” (Matt 9:37-38)
Yet, despite our belief, we are so often afraid that the answer to that prayer is “you.”
“You are the labourers that I will send to harvest the field.”
“No, Lord. Not me! I am not suitable,” we squirm.
The Lord himself displayed obedience to the Father, going as far to sacrifice himself on the cross, even though he was without sin, completely undeserving of death, and to a certain degree, reluctant:
“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt 26:39)
And Isaiah, when the Lord asked for someone to do his will, volunteered himself:
“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” ” (Isaiah 6:8).
Yet, we dither.
If we claim we believe, does every aspect of our lives reflect that claim?
Are we bold with our faith, or are we furtive?
The calling to be a Christian boils down to this – be the human being God designed us to be. In other words, to be like Jesus – the one called Son of God, the Suffering Servant, the Righteous One.
Having been positionally sanctified, will we be perfected in our lifetime? No. But it is unacceptable as a Christian to not strive towards that goal.
If in our sober moments, we cannot determine and commit to what is holy, what hope have we to make the right choice when faced with temptations?
Sin is real, and remains a force over our earthly flesh.
But so is the saving work of Christ, and his sending of the Spirit to aid us in our lifelong deathmatch with sin.
In the words of John Owen:
“Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.”
God has called.
We must answer.