“And you are included among those Gentiles who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ. I am writing to all of you in Rome who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.”
Romans 1:6-7 NLT
There is much encouragement in these two verses. The word “called” occurs twice and it infers something special. Paul assures the Roman congregation that they are in a special place in God’s eyes. He knows them all. And this all the more remarkable because they were “Gentiles”, non-Jews who were feared and despised by a race who claimed the exclusive rights of a relationship with God. But through Jesus’s last instructions, as recorded in Matthew 28:19, God’s grace was extended to everyone. He said, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
But what is it like, being “called”? In a natural sense, it happens all the time. We call someone using a phone. A child calls out for their parents in the night. It is all part of the human interactions that we all take for granted. To facilitate the process of calling, we are each given a name, so that we can be identified, one from another. In a different sense, we sometimes observe that someone who is doing a certain type of work must be responding to a calling. Perhaps a nurse, or missionary. Doing work we couldn’t do, or wouldn’t want to, and we then assume that they were making a personal sacrifice to do something for the benefit of their fellow human beings.
But in our relationship with God, the calling is something special. I don’t know about you, but I fall into the “Gentile” category. I do not have Jewish heritage. But I do know that God’s grace has extended even to me, because I know that I am one of His children. If anyone has any doubts about their eligibility to be a child of God, start with reading John 3:16-17, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him”. That is where we start our journey, with the thought, a glimmer of hope, that God’s grace extends to everyone, the whole world. That journey continues with the assurance that through repentance we gain salvation from the consequences of our sins. We read in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent”. I John 2:2 reads, referring to Jesus, “He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world”. And then we read Ephesians 1:4, “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes”. In some timeless and eternal way, God sees all His creation, past, present and future, and yearns for each person to turn to Him during their lives here on Planet Earth. Everyone is called.
But are we listening? Do we hear His voice calling us? If not, perhaps we need to find a quiet place away from the clamour and noise of the world in which we live and just sit and listen. Quieten our thoughts before Him. Ask God to speak to us. And He will.
Dear Lord Jesus. We hear Your call today. And I pray for all those who will respond, that Your Holy Spirit will touch them deeply, securing their future relationship with You. In Your precious name. Amen.