“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Wilderness of Judea.” Matthew 3:1
“In the wilderness? What’s John doing in the wilderness? Isn’t he supposed to be preparing the way of the Lord? Shouldn’t he be in the inner city or something? I don’t think he loves Jesus at all…hanging out there in the wilderness all the time. If he were a better Christian, he would be serving the poor…he would be teaching Sunday School…he would be visiting the sick…he would be serving on the mission field…or better yet, he would be Jesus’ first disciple…not out in the wilderness, expecting people to come to HIM. No, I don’t think John is where he needs to be in his Christian walk. He needs to be doing more.”
Jesus desires for you to walk in your God given calling. Not the calling that guilt is giving to you. Not the calling that your church assumes that you should be fulfilling. Not the calling that the bloggers imply makes you a better Christian. NO! The calling that God created you for…the one He had in mind when He knit you together in your mother’s womb… when He gifted you with your personality, with your strengths, with your weaknesses.
Nothing gets my goat more than the emotionalism going around trying to talk people into a cause. I am not saying that we don’t need more Christians to be actively following and obeying Jesus…just that as someone who is easily guilted, I think we need to be very careful about how we motivate people. In our passion to bring help to a situation or an area of need in the world, we cannot assume that Christians who don’t feel that same call are outside of the Will of God or that they are apathetic. To be sure there are far too many apathetic Christians who are not really listening for Jesus, let alone following Him. But there are also a great many sincere and feeling people who may, at our passionate pleas, be drawn out of their own place of Kingdom work into something that they were never designed to do.
We tend to believe in this society that in order to follow Jesus, we need to be doing the things “glamorized” by the church…holding altar calls for thousands or feeding hundreds or starting a ministry that in some way changes the world. But consider this: the very man called to prepare the way for Jesus spent most of his ministry ALONE in the wilderness. He was right in the center of His call sitting in a desert. As a matter of fact, the Lord brought the people to HIM… He didn’t go to find them…He didn’t have to… they came.
Not only did he not have to draw the serious seekers, but he didn’t have to invite the opposition either. And soon he found himself once again alone and in prison. But still right in the center of his call. We know that because when he sent a message to Jesus questioning if he had missed it, Jesus sent a message right back and assured him “the blind see, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news.” In essence, “you’ve accomplished what you were sent to do.” I can’t help but imagine that such a message brought anything but joy and relief to John’s soul as he waited through his final hours on earth.
Can I humbly ask you, do you struggle with this sometimes like I do? Do you scroll through social media feeling like you are sitting in the middle of a wilderness alone (and how on earth can God use THAT for His glory?)? What were YOU created for? For what purpose has He put you on this earth? Maybe this is part of the problem. You don’t know. So you are overwhelmed with the calls of others. When people lay out their agendas, you wonder to yourself “Maybe THAT is what I should be doing for the Lord.” When someone else’s emotional passion grabs you, you jump on the train because if somebody wants you on it THAT bad, it must be what you were created for.
The truth is that only you, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, can determine what you were called by God to do while you live in this temporary home. And honestly, sometimes the call changes daily…and sometimes it never changes. There are people who are called to “be on call” and there are people who are called to do the same thing at the same time at the same place every day.
But every Christian is called. You have a call on your life. You are called to build the Kingdom. So the question is not “if”, it is “how”. May I offer a starting point?
- We are ALL called to love others.
- We are ALL called to obey Christ.
- We are ALL called to serve and encourage each other.
- We are ALL called to faith.
- We are ALL called to suffering. (Despite popular opinion, no true call of Christ is without a cross.)
- We are ALL called to prayer and study of the Word
Don’t know what you are called to? Start here. Right where you are, begin to serve when you see a need…begin to love those around you with everything you have…begin to take steps of faith, no matter how small when you feel God pressing them on your heart…begin to expect suffering and use it as an opportunity to glorify the Lord…begin to spend time in His Word and in intimate fellowship. And truly, maybe you will not clearly see your specific “call” until heaven when the Lord reveals all and faith becomes sight. Maybe it is better for us sometimes if we don’t have everything “figured out” and we just walk in obedience day by day. Maybe in the end, it is just that simple…living every day, every moment even, listening for the voice of the Lord and obeying Him.
Our God is a God of variety. He has so many facets to Him…so many perspectives…that one person could not possibly comprehend them all even if that person spent every waking moment of his or her life trying. That is why there is a Body…because each of us following Jesus is another facet of His great love. You can only get somewhat of a true picture of Him when you put all of us together…when we are the Church, His Bride. We lose out on so much by limiting Him to causes…by believing that our view of Him is better than our brother’s or sister’s next to us…by choosing to discount the contributions of ANY Jesus follower.
Because the woman working her tail off feeding the poor really could be profiting nothing and a man alone in the wilderness could be the greatest man born among woman.