Missed Calls

We live in a time when many people in the world have cell phones. Those who carry them can be reached at almost any time. However, even though people carry cell phones, they still, at times, miss calls. Some miss them because they choose to. They see the number of the person calling them, they don’t recognize the number, and so they choose not to answer the call. Others miss a call because they are already on the line with someone else. And finally, some people miss calls by accident; they did not hear the phone ring.

In the spiritual life there can also be missed calls. And like the cell phone calls mentioned above they can be missed for different reasons. When Christians speak about calling, very often we are referring to the ministry that the Lord has called us to. This is legitimate because it is a scriptural concept. We see evidence of such calls in the Bible. In fact, some people in Scripture had very powerful calls to ministry. Samuel the prophet and Saul of Tarsus (the apostle Paul) are two people who received very powerful calls to ministry. God’s calls continue. In the contemporary church a person may sense the call to be a pastor, an evangelist, a medical missionary, or a Sunday School teacher. Because we place so much emphasis on this type of call we may miss some of the other calls that Scripture sets before us. The ones I will mention are found in the apostle Peter’s first letter.

The Lord does not want us to follow the desires of our sinful nature, we are to yield to the will and word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are to obey the instructions of the inspired text.

In 1 Peter the apostle addressed Christians who lived in a number of different locations, they lived in “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia” (1 Pet. 1:1 NIV). His message was the same to all of these believers. In this letter he covered a number of different subjects, one of them was the subject of calling. The Lord has called His people out of sin (1 Pet. 2:9) so that they will be holy (1 Pet. 1:15) in order that they may ultimately enter His “eternal glory” (1 Pet. 5:10 NIV). However, I would like to focus our attention on two other callings that the Lord has placed upon His people.

The first of these two callings is found in 1 Peter 2. In this chapter Peter tells his readers that they are to endure “unjust suffering” (1 Pet. 2:19-21 NIV). Why does he say this? One reason is that he is writing under divine inspiration (2 Tim. 3:16), God wanted this message communicated to His people. But there are additional reasons as well. Peter tells us that as believers we have been called to this, and Jesus is our model in this regard (1 Pet. 2:21). He further explains this in the verses that follow (1 Pet. 2:22-24). Jesus is the ultimate example of one who endured the pain of unjust suffering and we are called to do the same. This goes against our human nature. If we feel that we have been wronged we want justice, we want vindication. However, as believers we are called to be like our teacher (Matt. 10:24-25a). This is a very practical calling that deals with the day to day challenges of living the Christian life. In some places in the world believers are almost daily having to live this out. But in the West this call can be largely forgotten, there is such freedom that this scriptural truth can be overlooked. Peter said that he wrote both of his letters as reminders (2 Pet. 3:1). This is one call that some believers may need to be reminded of.

The second call that I would like to highlight is found in 1 Peter 3. Once again this is a very practical call, it is to be lived out whenever a child of God encounters ill treatment. How often a believer will have to rise to this calling will vary from person to person. Peter’s instruction in 1 Peter 3:9 is very clear, in this verse he tells his readers that they are not to return evil for evil. He even supports his statement by citing Scripture from the Old Testament, his citation comes from a Psalm of David, Psalm 34:12-16. This is God’s intention for His people. This too goes against our human nature. There are times when we want to retaliate and return to the offender what he or she has done to us. However, we must resist that temptation. The Lord does not want us to follow the desires of our sinful nature, we are to yield to the will and word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are to obey the instructions of the inspired text. This is better for us and for those who have hurt us.

These two callings may easily be overlooked, but they are essentials in the Christian life. We may need to implement them on an almost daily basis. Our obedience, or lack of obedience, to these callings will to a large degree determine what kind of people we become. And we all know that we are called to be Christ like (Rom. 8:29). The good news in the challenges of life is that God empowers His people to obey these directives. Let us not miss these calls. They are just as important as our call to ministry.

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Father of Our Lord

When Jesus considered how people regarded the commandments of God, He said, “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” Did what He had to say about God have that distinctive mark of being a departure from previously held ideas?

Holy God

Predominantly Jews thought of God as holy—totally different and separated from humans. His purity is so intense and severe that it will not tolerate any contamination. Approaching the holy Presence was punishable by death (Ex. 19:11-13). Though Moses is described as the man who conferred with God face to face (33:11), when Moses asked to see God’s glory he was told that he would not be able to survive seeing God in all His glory, and so God would show him only His retreating glory (vv.18-23). From generation to generation Jews thought of God as the Most High God who was so fearfully unapproachable that they dared not even take His Name even though God had given it to Moses and was written in their Scripture. Into this Jewish world, Jesus entered. His life spoke for God. “Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory—the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father… No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known” (John 1:14, 18, NET). In Moses’ day anyone straying onto the mount of God’s presence was punished with death, but in Christ ordinary folks got to gaze on His holiness and jostle God and they lived to tell of it, and His enemies even got to “manhandle” Him without being struck dead immediately (1 John 1: 1-4).
In Moses’ day anyone straying onto the mount of God’s presence was punished with death, but in Christ ordinary folks got to gaze on His holiness and jostle God and they lived to tell of it.
While the essential thrust of Christ’s teaching was about growing aware of the Kingdom of God being “next door” (“at hand”, KJV) to where we are in life and about the need to bring ourselves into alignment with the rule of God while we still have the choice, He did what He could to dispel the ignorance and/or the misconceptions about God.


One definitive statement about God that Jesus made is that “God is spirit” (John 4:24). In line with this, Jesus taught that what God was interested in is the state of the heart-life of people. He emphasised that scrupulously keeping the letter of the law was not the kind of morality that God wanted. People shouldn’t break the laws of God in their hearts. Not enough that a person desists from murder, but he mustn’t even harbour hatred in his heart. It wasn’t enough that a person didn’t commit adultery, he shouldn’t even have lust in his heart (Matt. 5: 21-32). Jesus also ridiculed the Jews for their practice of showing off how religious they were by conducting their devotional life in public view. He said that whenever anyone did that, the only thing the person really wanted was human approval and he would surely get it. But if a man wanted God’s approval then he had to do all his praying, fasting and charity only for God’s exclusive viewing pleasure (6: 1-18).
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