The other night, Rhonda and I happened upon a short film on the life of Florence Nightengale. At a time when medicine was a “men-only” profession, she had a calling from God to be a nurse taking her into unexplored territory challenging the status quo. Her father did not approve. Yet, she was determined to fulfill her calling no matter the challenges.
Her calling oriented her life. It led her to decisions that didn’t make sense to others. It took her into danger and uncomfortable situations. Yet, it gave her purpose. When engaged, she felt fulfilled. She personified “calling.”
She came to mind as I read this morning from 1 Corinthians 1:1-9. Three times St. Paul uses the word “called” –
- “called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God” (v. 1) – for himself, Paul’s calling determined his life. As a holy Apostle he bore the joyous responsibility to be a saint and teach the Church what had been passed down to him. He never deviated from his calling.
- “to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” (v. 2) – for the Corinthian church, their calling was to be saints. They were to follow St. Paul’s example and orient their lives towards sainthood. They were already sanctified – set apart – in Christ Jesus. Now it was their duty, their purpose in life, to become holy in their entire being, collectively and individually.
- “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship [participation] of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (v. 9) – St. Paul now seems to move to a general principle applicable to all believers. All Christians have been called into the same fellowship/participation the Son has. The Son has full fellowship with the Father and Spirit while in fellowship with His body, the Church. Our calling is “into” this same fellowship.
So here’s the question: Does this call orient your life?
Do you feel called to participate in the participation of Jesus with His Father, Spirit, and Church? Or, have you missed it by not paying close attention to scripture and Jesus’ work in you?
Does the calling to be a saint matter to you? Does the call to enter into the same participation the Son has with the Father, Spirit, and Church make a difference in how you live moment by moment?
Note: I’m not talking about a vocational calling. St. Paul is not addressing what you should do professionally, for employment, or for a career.
He’s getting at something much deeper. He’s saying every Christian’s life is to be devoted to and directed by the call to communion with the Trinity and His Church. Everything in life revolves around this particular call into this particular participation. This call is to orient everything in our life, all the time.
Is your life fully oriented to the call to participate in the Son’s fellowship?
If you’re like me, I struggle every day with fulfilling this call. I become preoccupied with other lesser work which “disorients” me from my true calling. As a result, I feel unfulfilled, out of sorts, and often empty as if I’m wasting my life. I don’t want to be like that. Yet, I am. Thus, the struggle. But, it’s better to struggle than ignore the call altogether. It’s better to struggle than to presume I’m already holy enough. It’s better to struggle since God is right there working His mercy into every detail.
Learning to commune with God in prayer is the simplest way of fellowshipping with the Trinity. This kind of prayer can be silent, liturgical, intercessory, scriptural, and spontaneous. It can include written prayers, icons, lit candles, incense, or other material means of drawing your heart to God. There will always be physical components like standing, sitting, kneeling, bowing, or crossing. But, don’t get stymied by the methods or means. The important thing is to “draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you.” He’s there already; you simply need to show up attentively.
As you do this, see where God takes you in the weeks, months, and years to come. This calling is for a lifetime. No need to rush. The call is urgent but not clamorous. Take up the call as you are able. It will change your life.
Please comment or ask questions below. Thank you for reading and for answering the call.