Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.

Romans 1: 1

This is the opening thought that Paul expresses in Romans, and he states two really big ideas in this short sentence. First, Paul was called by God; the Lord had something in mind for Paul to be doing, and He communicated that something to Paul. Second, in responding to God, Paul was set apart. He was removed from the place in the world that he had previously occupied, and through the miracle of adoption into God’s household, he was granted a new identity and a new purpose in life. Thus, Paul became a distinctly new individual whose greatest mission was to do the will of God.

These same things are true for everyone else who decides to follow Jesus. You and I are also called by God. He has a plan for our lives, and He has given each of us specific skills and granted us certain gifts that He will use in us to answer that calling. Also, God takes everyone who responds to Him, and He moves us out of the view of the world that was ours before and provides us with a new perspective and a new mission within that life. It is not like we are living in some form of fairy tale, however, where the changes happen to us, and we are not really participants in them. God effects the essential change within us by giving us His Spirit; yet, He continues to dialogue with us over the remainder of our lives. He continues to reveal His calling to us, and we are asked by Him to continue to surrender ourselves to being separated from our old lives.

The daily challenge that I face is in listening to God’s call and in humbly giving up control of aspects of my life to Him so that I can respond to that calling more fully. Christ is speaking every day, and He has a mission in mind for us to respond to during each of those days. So, the big questions is this, am I willing to follow Paul’s leading and set aside my own desires and anticipations in order to answer? The gospel calls us into engaging fully in the adventure that is our new life in Christ, and Christ promises the blessing of God’s love, peace, and grace to all who set aside the old life and accept our new being as servants of the King. In Christ, we are each called to enter into that service. Let us follow the Apostle Paul and respond to Christ’s call to leave the world behind and to give up ourselves as servants to our Lord as we respond to Christ’s leading for our new lives in Him.  

But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt.

Jude 20-22

 

Jude’s “But you” is referring to the warnings about the world where the readers were living that Jude had just delivered. This was to be a time and a place where people would claim to be true to Christ and to His church while they were teaching and living out clear denial of all that was sacred and holy. These would be people who made fun of fundamental truth, and who would attempt to convince others of their lack of real understanding of God and of His will. These are the people whose mouths are continually speaking the same words that the serpent used to lead Eve into rebellion against God. They whisper and they shout into our ears, “Did God actually say?”

 

So, people question the actual meaning of God’s Word. They challenge long-standing teaching about what is right and what is righteous. We become convinced that God’s desire and plan for salvation has exceptions in it that are based upon nationality, race, and belief systems. Acceptance of others is then based upon our comfort and not upon God’s view of value and worth. People begin to hold life with so little regard that we sacrifice our babies on altars that are erected on street corners for convenience, and we are willing to send our own children to be maimed and killed both physically and psychologically in the name of commerce. As doubt of God’s Word grows in our minds, it spreads into our hearts, and people start to turn away from belief in God. We become a world that is committed to serving the unholy king that is self.

 

Then we have Jude. He tells it like it is. The answer to this world where we live is found in exactly the same place that the answer to every need that has presented itself to people throughout all of history. People who know God and who trust in Christ are called upon by God to remain faithful to Him. This means that we can not get caught up in despair and be overwhelmed by what is happening in our world. In prayer and in humble devotion to Christ we are to stay immersed in His love. We are to worship the Lord of mercy whose own gracious sacrifice has obtained eternal life for us. Then, as we are filled and strengthened by Christ’s presence and led by His Spirit, we will be prepared to engage with the people who are spreading doubt in our world. Christ will lead us in this confrontation with those who are bringing death to our doorstep. He will give us hearts that remain pure, and He will provide us with His words of love, mercy, and eternal life to speak to the doubters.