loren Eric Swanson: Calling

Thursday, October 11, 2007


When I joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1974 one of the questions that I had to answer on the application form was how God called me to Campus Crusade. If applicants could not describe a clear calling from God acceptance was quite doubtful.

It's interesting how things change. When I ask college students today how they were called to live overseas or work missionally, usually the answer is something like this: "My buddy called me and asked me what I was doing this summer. He then asked me if I wanted to join him and some other friends to go....and it sounded better than what I was doing, so I'm here."

Calling today often comes from people we like. This is the relational side of ministry.

With these thoughts in mind, I'll attach another letter from my son, Andy, in Asia. It's what I've been trying to say.....

I have been looking at the issue of calling during the past couple months. It is interesting if you look at it in the Bible. You can find a great many examples of people getting a specific call from God to do something. But as you look at calling, there is something else very interesting that surfaces. God, being a relational God, and us being relational people are also called relationally. We know the story of Paul’s call; we see Barnabas and John Mark and Titus and Luke who all go with Paul on this mission. The Bible gives no evidence of specific visions from the Lord to these other people. Paul refers to calling not as an individual calling but as the calling of all believers (1 Corinthians 1:23-31 Ephesians 4:1). “I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” 2 Timothy 2:8 “called us to a holy calling.” There are many more. We are called and we are chosen to do good works. (Ephesians 2:10) Look at Abram’s call. God tells Abram to go to Canaan and he will bless him and will bless the earth through him. So does Abram go alone? No, he takes his wife, he takes his nephew, and he takes this whole big group of people with him. (Genesis 12:1-5) They are called because he is called and he decides to bring them along with him. Because of their relationship with Abram, through his call, they are also relationally called. Think of your own life. How many big things have you done for the Lord where you have had a specific call? How many things on the other hand have you done where people you have a relationship with are going to do something and you are excited about what they are doing and you see how God could use you and grow you, so you go along with them? I know God has used and is using you to do great things.

Why do we wait for God to call us to do his ministry? Has he not already called? Can non-Christians tell people about Jesus? Do you follow Christ? Then you must walk as he walked. 1 John 2:6 His mission was to proclaim the kingdom (Matthew 4:17, 23) and we are called his ambassadors 2 Corinthians 5:20. As ambassadors our job is to proclaim the king and his kingdom to those people who haven’t heard. Don’t spend all your time collecting people who already know Jesus but instead go to the distant places to show people the kingdom and introduce them to the King. Take your friends. Take your family and go. Bring the Kingdom of Heaven to the kingdom of hell. Go and change the world.

"'Not called!' did you say? Not heard the call,' I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father's house and bid their brothers and sisters and servants and masters not to come there. Then look Christ in the face -- whose mercy you have professed to obey -- and tell Him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish His mercy to the world. -- William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army


At Saturday, October 13, 2007 6:37:00 AM, Blogger Karl said...

Thanks for this post. I'm in the middle of figuring out my next "career" move within CCC, and this has been helpful.

At Friday, October 19, 2007 4:11:00 PM, Blogger Jessica Bott said...

Hi Eric!

Hey, would you mind if I posted a link to this from my Facebook page?... So insightful... Let me know.


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