This is part 3 of 3 in a series on Being Christian.
What is God calling us to? God’s call is sometimes to something very specific like being a teacher or parent or chemist. Those calls involve an assessment of our gifts and abilities, and prayerful discernment. But what God ultimately calls all of us to is a way of life – a way of being in the world and a way of being with others. When Jesus called his disciples he may have said, “Follow me” but they didn’t necessarily know exactly what they were getting into. When we’re called there’s a chance we can operate out of a sense of fear. We might be afraid to listen to God’s voice because we’re afraid of what God might ask of us. What if God asks us to leave everything behind? When Jesus said “Follow me” he was calling his disciples to a way of life, a life where they left much behind and lived in a radical new way: A life of service, a life on the move, not always comfortable, doing things that were not always so glamorous, but a way of life that would change the world one person at a time.
When I felt God calling me to religious life seven years ago I had to leave my former life behind, and when a few years later I felt God calling me to marriage I was also being asked to step into an unknown future. But in both instances God was continually calling me to a way of life as a Christian on mission for God and the bettering of the world. Both religious life and marriage gave me a framework to live that out, but the mission was the same: serve God by serving the world. This is St Ignatius’ Principle and Foundation. And in doing this I would play my part in changing the world, making it a little bit more loving and a little bit more just.
Jesus calls his followers to a paradoxical way of life: be blind and you will see, love those who persecute you, the last shall be first, lose your life to save it, sell your possessions and you will be rich, whoever humbles himself will be exalted. This is what it means to be Christian!
Just as there are many ways for our gifts to be utilised, whether in the vocation of a parent, an accountant, a priest, an IT tech, or a barista, the Christian way of life is the context in which those vocations find their place. When our day-to-day jobs and relationships take on this new way of life they take on new purpose and meaning. All we do becomes a means for building up God’s kingdom and bringing love into the world. We can actually live the paradox of Christian life, not clinging to our possessions, not always climbing the ladder of attention and success, not having to hold grudges against those who persecute us.
Jesus’ first words in the Gospel of Mark are “Follow me.” Those were loaded words, indeed. Jesus is asking us to follow not as passive sidekicks but to embrace the Christian way of life; that wherever we are, we are living those Christian paradoxes and changing the world a little bit at a time.
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Music by Kevin MacLeod