calling of a Christian

By Femi Aribisala

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Mark 12:29).

Everything about the Christian faith is one: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

God hates the double-minded. He despises the double-tongued. The believer’s eyes must be single and focused. Accordingly, there can only be the same calling for every believer.

Once a man meets the Lord, it is time to start praying for him that the eyes of his understanding may be enlightened that he might know “the hope of God’s calling.” (Ephesians 1:18).

The purpose that is purposed

What precisely is the purpose behind God’s calling? What is God’s agenda for those who are called according to His purpose?

 Paul says: “(He who God) foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called.” (Romans 8:29-30).

This indicates that the purpose that is purposed for those called by God is to be exactly like His Son Jesus so that Jesus might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Is that not wonderful?

Indeed, God’s prophecy says when we finally see Jesus, we shall be exactly like Him:

“Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s children, right now, and we can’t even imagine what it is going to be like later on. But we do know this, that when he comes we will be like him, as a result of seeing him as he really is.” (1 John 3:2).

I know of no Christian that does not want to be like Jesus. But there is one little problem. To be like Jesus, we have to suffer.

Problematic appointment

When Jesus called Paul, He sent Ananias to him saying: “I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Acts 9:16).

Peter says: “Since Christ suffered and underwent pain, you must have the same attitude He did; you must be ready to suffer, too. For remember, when your body suffers, sin loses its power.” (1 Peter 4:1).

Sinless Jesus came to save us from our sins. Suffering is the only way through which we can deal with the problem of sin. The scriptures teach that we can only learn obedience through suffering. It says of Jesus: “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8).

To be like Him, we must follow His example. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. (John 14:6).

Moreover, we cannot know God unless we suffer: “For it was fitting that He, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering.” (Hebrews 2:10).

Jesus Himself acknowledged that if He had not suffered, He would not have entered into glory. He asked Cleopas and his companion: “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:26).

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Therefore, to be exactly like Jesus, to be partakers of God’s divine nature, we have to suffer unjustly without grumbling or complaining. We are called to suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake. We are called to do good and to suffer for it.

Jesus’ blueprint

 This is what happened to Jesus: “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7).

Thus, Peter says: “This is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” (1 Peter 2:19-21).

When the Christians in Thessalonica suffered persecution, Paul wrote a similar thing to them: “No one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this.” (1 Thessalonians 3:3).

When the Disciples of Jesus were flogged for preaching in the name of Jesus, they rejoiced in the knowledge that this validated their calling:

“When they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.” (Acts 5:40-41).

Fighting the truth

 The road to heaven is paved with good intentions. However, our good intentions are not enough. Our dilemma is that we want to go to heaven, we want to be like Jesus, but we do not want to suffer.

The chief young ruler wanted to inherit eternal life. However, when he understood the requirements, he had a change of heart. When Jesus told him to sell all he has and give the proceeds to the poor, the man lost all interest. He wanted eternal life but found the cost to be too expensive.

The Israelites wanted to go to the Promised Land. But when they discovered that to get there, God would suffer them to hunger and thirst and they would have to fight against giants, they opted to go back to Egypt.

Solomon says history tends to repeat itself. As it was in the days of old, so it is now. Christians want to be like Jesus, but then again we do not want to be like Him because we despise the fellowship of His sufferings.

New wine, old bottles

The choice is ours to make, but the requirements will not be amended for our convenience. If God did not want us to suffer, He would have given us new bodies immediately after we were born again.  But by leaving us in this body of death, He has consigned us in this lifetime to pain and suffering.

That is why we are groaning in ourselves to be released from pain and suffering by the redemption of our bodies. In the meantime, the born-again Christian is like new wine in old bottles.

The counsel of God says: “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22). Jesus confirms this: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” ((John 16:33).

Satan is the ruler of this world. (1 John 5:19). Therefore, all those that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12). The devil will make sure that the wicked persecute the righteous. (Gal 4:28-29).

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

He guards all his bones; not one of them is broken.” (Psalm 34:19-20).

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