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The call is for all

The call is for all

Calling, in biblical terms, is not just for some; it’s for all.

Philip Mounstephen
By Philip Mounstephen, executive leader of Church Mission Society

Indeed the word often used for ‘church’ in the New Testament is the word ‘ekklesia’ which means literally ‘called out’. God’s people, God’s church, are those he has called to belong to him, to serve him and to love him.

So to be a Christian is to be called.

It’s an inclusive term, not an exclusive one. It’s certainly not about ordination or being a 'professional' missionary.

Fundamentally it’s about being called to be a child of God and putting that call in action out of love.

In 1985 the Church of England produced a document called ‘All are called’ which includes these inspirational words:

Because all human beings are made in the image of God, they are called to become the People of God, the Church, servants and ministers and citizens of the Kingdom, a new humanity in Jesus Christ. Though we are tainted by our sinfulness, God’s wonderful grace and love offer us all this common Christian vocation. God leaves everyone free to refuse this call; but the call is there for all without exception.

The young are called; the elderly are called. There is no retirement from the Christian pilgrimage. The beautiful are called, and also the unlovely. The sick are called as well as the healthy and the energetic. Activists are called and also quiet people. We are called regardless of our intellectual abilities or our formal education. We are called regardless of our race or nationality or social class.

Called by Jesus

The call is for all. And in all of this Jesus is our model. One passage of scripture that has been a constant source of inspiration for me is Luke 4:18-19, in which Jesus stands up in the synagogue in Nazareth and proclaims his calling ‘to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind and to let the oppressed go free.’

There is something amazing about these prophetic words. On the one hand Jesus focuses them on himself. And in one sense they can only apply to him. And yet because of all that Jesus has done for us, these words are true for us all. Because of his victory on the cross, because of the triumph of his resurrection, because of his gift at Pentecost, these words can apply to us too, as we too are anointed by the Spirit, to do the works that Jesus did, in the power of his Spirit. His call is our call too.

As Jesus’ call is our call too, so his words can become our words. So I invite you, whatever your own calling may look like, to join with me in making Jesus’ words your own, today and every day:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on us,
because he has anointed us
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent us to proclaim freedom for the prisoners 
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

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