1Corinthians 1:1-9, “…called by the will of God… called to be saints… called into fellowship…”
In the beginning of his first letter to the Corinthians the Apostle Paul makes several references to callings. He introduces himself as having been “called by the will of God to be an apostle” (v1). He describes the believers he’s writing to as those, “called to be saints” (v2), and also, “called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (V9).
When we consider these three callings together we end up with a helpful summary of God’s desires and purposes for us as Christians: he has called us to serve, to be holy, and to be in fellowship with our Lord Jesus. Let’s think about each of those callings.
First, “called by the will of God to be an apostle”. Paul was of course called in a very dramatic fashion to the specific work of an apostle. While you and I have not received the same apostolic call, we have each been called to serve God’s will in our fashion (Rom 12:3-8). We have all been called by God to serve.
Second, “called to be saints”, that is, set apart and sanctified in Christ Jesus. As Christians we have called to be holy; to put off sin and walk in the new way of repentance and righteousness.
And third, “you were called into the fellowship of his Son”. Not only has God called us all to serve him, and to be holy, but he has called every Christian into a real and experiential relationship with Jesus Christ, by faith. Each of us are called to know Christ personally, to speak to him in prayer, to listen to him speak in his word, and to cling to him in faith.
It’s worth noting that none of those callings are at all hindered by our inability to gather together as a congregation right now. Yes we can’t meet at the church building for services, we can’t meet for prayer or for bible study, we can’t even get within six feet of one another! That has a major impact on our fellowship and our life together as a congregation.
But does it stop us from serving, as we’ve been called? No. There are still plenty of ways to serve the will of God by praying for one another, reaching out to encourage one another, discipling our children, extending kindness and mercy to our neighbors, taking every opportunity to bear witness to the truth of the gospel, etc. Has there ever been a time when a simple phone call or text message can be more of an act of service than right now?
Does it stop us from being holy, as we’ve been called? No. In fact, the sort of stripped down and simplified life we’re living at the moment is a rare opportunity to consider our lives and devote the time and energy necessary to put off sinful habits. Have we been ignoring certain ungodly patterns of thought and word and deed because we’re too distracted with the busyness of life? Well God, in his providence, has slowed down all of our lives . Has there ever been a time more conducive to thinking about how we live, and making changes?
Does it stop us from having fellowship with our Lord Jesus? No. Once again, our circumstances now might be unusually helpful in that regard. Our Lord waits for us to approach him in faith, but far too often we’ve rushed through our days with barely a thought of him. We’ve raced from responsibility to responsibility and forgotten that he even exists. Well, he’s given us a unique opportunity to stop racing and start remembering him more often. To seek him in prayer and in his word, and to come to him again and again in faith throughout the day. He has shut us up in our homes, but by his Spirit he is there with us - we are quarantined with him!
Friends, in this unique time when life is so unusual, remember your calling. Remember that God has called you to serve him. Remember that he’s called you to be holy. Remember that he’s called you to fellowship with Jesus Christ. No stay-at-home order can hinder us from his will. In fact, it might even help to us to answer his call.