May 18, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – 2 Thessalonians 2:14 (NRSV)
For this purpose [God] called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The call of God comes to us through the means of human voices. As we hear the good news about Jesus from preachers or friends, in church services, casual conversations, or in written form, our heart hears the voice of God, calling us through the Spirit into a relationship with him. Knowing that God uses human beings to call people encourages us to talk about faith openly, but without feeling as if the responsibility for conversion is somehow ours. As we bear witness to the gospel through our words and deeds, God is at work.
Today’s devotion is part of the series God’s Transformational Calling.
In this devotional series on God’s Transformational Calling we have seen that the Apostle Paul uses the language of calling to describe what happens when we first put our faith in Jesus Christ. Thus, Christians can be described as “those who are the called” (1 Corinthians 1:24). We are followers of Jesus because God called us to believe the good news of salvation by grace. (For more on this theme, see “Called to Believe the Good News.”)
But, we might wonder, how does this calling to faith really happen? By what means does God call us into a relationship with God through Christ?
We get an answer to this question in 2 Thessalonians 2:14. There, Paul explains to the Thessalonian Christians that God “called you through our proclamation of the good news.” More literally, the original language reads, God “called you through our gospel [euangelion].” Paul uses the expression “our gospel” as a shorthand way of referring to his preaching of the gospel. When the Thessalonians heard Paul tell the story of what God had done in Jesus Christ, they were hearing more than merely a human voice. They were also hearing the voice of God calling them to himself.
Many Christians can relate to this account of calling from their own experience. For example, I have spoken before of how I first came to faith in Jesus Christ. When I was six years old, I heard Billy Graham preach in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and I went forward to “accept Jesus into my heart.” I heard the call of God through the preaching of Billy Graham.
But sometimes people hear God’s call from something other than actual preaching. A woman in my church in Irvine heard and responded to God’s call as I was saying the words of institution at a communion service. I know many people who heard God’s call through the testimony of a friend or family member. My son first heard God’s calling as he watched a children’s version of the Jesus Film. A man I know actually heard God’s call when he discovered a religious tract on a picnic table. As he read it, he heard and responded to God’s call and gave his life to Christ. This man, by the way, is one of the brightest and most thoughtful people I know, with a Ph.D. in philosophy from Yale. His story reminds us of the creativity and freedom of God in calling us to himself.
The fact that God calls people through human words, whether preached, shared, or written, encourages us to be channels of the good news to others. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we need to start preaching to stadiums full of people. And it really doesn’t mean we should become the sort of rude people who put off others by pressuring them to come to faith. When we realize that what draws people to say “Yes” to Christ is God’s calling, then we are set free to talk about faith without worrying that the results depend on us.
How did you first hear the call of God? What was happening in you so that you responded in faith?
Has God ever used you to lead another person to faith in Christ? Were you more of the “ground preparer” or the “harvester”?
How free are you to talk about your faith in Christ? What helps you to speak of Jesus in a winsome, non-pressured way?
Ask God to give you a situation in which you can share your faith with someone who needs to know about the gospel.
Gracious God, thank you for calling me to yourself. Thank you for those who helped me hear your call. Thank you for stirring in my heart through your Spirit so that I was able to respond in faith.
Lord, I would love to see others hear and respond to your calling. And I would like to be useful in this process, though there is part of me that holds back because I don’t want to put people off. Help me, I pray, to talk about you in ways that are genuine, humble, and respectful. Use me to help folks know about your grace and respond in faith. May I do this in a way that fits who I am and who you have called me to be.
To you be all the glory. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. An article on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Sharing the Gospel Through Wise Conversation
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.