The Collective Call
God has woven our stories to include the places we find ourselves in, carrying out the jobs we do, with the people we claim, yet our calling is set apart.
I was talking with a friend the other day about jobs, purpose, ministry, etc., and he asked me this question: “Do you think your job is your calling?” I was caught off guard and if I’m being honest, I was a bit flustered, being pretty uncertain of the correct answer.
I think much of my life I’ve unknowingly intertwined the two—calling and career. I heard God’s voice early in my high school years guiding me towards a life of ministry in the church, and from that moment on I never looked back. And while I don’t doubt that where I am now, my job, this city, my community is completely because of God’s leading, I think I confused my job for my calling. When I would read verse 1 of Ephesians 4, I would began analyzing my ministry to ensure that I was doing all that I could in order to live a life worthy of this calling.
But when Paul begins his analyzing, he doesn’t speak to the different careers represented. He doesn’t even give specific instructions to the different roles people carried out within the church.
We realize that verse one actually doesn’t begin anything, for his coaxing flows out of the prayer he just finished in the previous section. He prays that the believers would be strengthened with power in the Spirit and that they would grasp the immense love that Christ has for them. The powerful presence of Spirit and a rich understanding God’s love must be the starting point. We have no calling if we don’t begin there.
Even then when Paul does launch into what this looks like practically, he calls them (and us) to humility, to gentleness, to unity and to bearing one another’s burdens instead of an individual pursuit of holiness.
Often when I think of my faith journey, or more specifically how the Holy Spirit works in me, I measure it based off of my own heart transformation. I think of how I, as an individual, am growing, or listening or in tune with the Spirit. (Which I think is important, no doubt), but my calling and the ways the Spirit has gifted me, are not things that are carried out on my own.
Paul spends the majority of this passage reminding them (and us) of how the church is the practical application of the gospel. He explains that believers are called not to careers or roles or even ministries, but rather to one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God. He continues later in verse 11 addressing some of the things people are gifted in while bringing it all back the calling we all share, regardless of what we are good at, what we are gifted in, where we get our paycheck—“that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
We have been given gifts. We have been created with specific skill sets. God has woven our stories to include the places we find ourselves in, carrying out the jobs we do, with the people we claim, yet our calling is set apart. It is ours collectively and only able to be carried out as we work together—to use everything in our ability (often times as well as that which is outside of our ability through the power of the Holy Spirit), to help one another discover completeness in Jesus.