Ring…ring…ring. Wow! It’s God! God called me!
Is that what Christians mean when they say, “I’ve been called by God” or “I’m seeking my calling?” Clearly, God Almighty doesn’t call us on our phones. “God called me” is a popular phrase in our community. So, what does it mean?
When we speak of “our calling,” most of the time we think we are being asked to do something, such as change careers, go to the mission field, go back to school, or have a child. What I can tell you as a Bible teacher and spiritual development coach is once we accept the call to be a Christian, a supernatural transformation process begins—resulting in a call to do something.
The good news is every believer can experience a unique freedom and a new identity through the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:1). The truth is: You have a destiny. You’ve been called—so answer!
The Bible says in Romans 8:29 NLT, “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” That is God’s principal call on our lives. He desires we work constantly to live holy, righteous lives, which is called “sanctification.” This doesn’t mean we become Jesus, but as his creation we can mirror many facets of his image.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified…” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4). “Sanctify” means to make holy or set apart; to conform to the likeness of Jesus Christ (see Eph. 4:24; Heb. 12:10). Early twentieth century minister and teacher, Oswald Chambers, wrote, “We are not here to be God’s showroom, we are here to exhibit one thing—the absolute captivity of our lives to Jesus Christ.”
We are told throughout our lives that we are a product of our past, which is true. Our biological makeup and distinct personalities come from our ancestral line. Our thinking processes, our behaviors, every flaw, what we like and don’t like, is a result of our upbringing and social environment. Therefore, you can say what we are today is the result of a previous condition. Yet, when we become a Christian, Jesus tells us our thinking must be renewed and our behavior must be based on becoming more like him. Salvation is just the beginning. Spiritual growth must come next.
Our call and primary motive as a believer in Jesus Christ is to be conformed to his likeness. We are products of God’s kingdom today and not our past, which means we have the ability to live with joy, passion and purpose. The Bible says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
In the Bible, the result of the relationships Christ formed were usually a positive personality change in the people he knew. The formation of a close, trusting relationship with Jesus had a great effect on their self-esteem. We see this clearly in the lives of the disciples. They were ordinary men whose lives were transformed by the power of God. I like the paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 5:17 in The Message translation, “Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!”
There is a saying that goes, “When I change the way I look at things, the things I look at change.” We have a choice to either live with the attitude that imitating Christ is impossible or not. We can tell ourselves, “I’ve got so much baggage from my past that I’ll never be able to live like Jesus,” or we can tell ourselves, “I’ve had some bad breaks, but Jesus is living in me now. He’s working in and with me to get rid of that old garbage. I choose to see myself as a new creation—just with some rough edges.”
Authentic transformation requires a long-term commitment, a solid partnership with God, the willingness to grow through pain and hardship, and the fortitude to live a countercultural life. As we are slowly transformed into the image of Christ, the old self shrinks. As our behavior changes, our brain chemistry changes for the better. Science now proves what the Bible has said all along; God designed us with the ability to change our own brains. We actually can “rewire” our brain which means we can change our thinking (called plasticity or neuroplasticity). It refers to the actual rewiring of the structure of the brain for a new type of use through developmental and damage repair.
God transforms our lives by renewing our minds, which he does through his truth—the Word of God (John 17:17) contained in the Holy Bible. His desire is that our minds and hearts are changed in such a way that our old negative values, beliefs and practices of the old life, the old mindset and old thinking patterns are rewired. This is a learned behavior. It is a discipline. Any one of us can cultivate it.
Paul, a classic example of a transformed person, said that the only thing that matters is being transformed by God into a new creation. The apostle said, “It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not [a Jewish custom]. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation” (Galatians 6:15 NLT). Jesus defined the destination of the journey (our call) when he taught his followers that the most important exhortations from God were to love God and his people with all of their heart, mind, strength, and soul (Mark 12:30-31). Sanctification is the process that enables us to gradually die to sin, self, and society in order to fully and profoundly love God and other people.
Am I willing to look at the things that are hindering me from my call as a believer?
Do I have an attitude of willingness to expose and examine obstacles of my old life—spiritually, physically, emotionally and relationally?
Christ came and he gives us an incredible gift: transformation into new creations with a new nature. Give God permission to tenderly begin his conversion process. Give him permission to clean out all the old yucky cobwebs of your heart and mind. Let his grace permeate your life. Pray as David did, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Rescue me from my enemies, LORD, for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (Psalm 143:8-10 NIV).
Thank God for beginning his amazing transformation process and promising you an incredible future!