Is God Calling You?
Is God Calling You?
By Rev. Gary Lewis
“Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” 1 Corinthians 15:8
God has issued some other unlikely calls. Scan the pages of a Bible or a book of church history, and you will find all sorts of people touched by God’s spirit … who hear God calling and respond.
Such a person wrote 1 Corinthians 15. His name is Paul, although he was not always called by that name. So compelling was his call to discipleship that he dropped his old name of Saul and took on a new name.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul rolls the credits for his Christian faith. It is like the end of a movie. The final scene has been played, telling the story of his conversion experience on the road to Damascus. The credits begin to roll. The names scroll by, from the mighty director to the humble best boy and dolly grip.
Paul’s credits begin with these words: “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day.”
Then the names begin to scroll: “He appeared to Cephas — Peter, in other words — then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters. … Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.”
It is only after this great litany of the faithful that Paul dares to list his own name: “Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.”
“Untimely born” is a euphemism: a phrase meant to cover up a grisly reality. Paul, in other words, is not a legitimate son of the gospel. He is not even an illegitimate heir. He is a twisted, broken wreck of a human being.
Remember, Saul of Tarsus persecuted the church. Saul was a religious bounty hunter; he rounded Christians up for execution. It was Saul who held the cloaks of the mob as they stoned Stephen to death.
“But by the grace of God,” Paul writes, “I am what I am.” Not by his own merits, but by the power of the living Lord who called out to him on the Damascus Road, who plucked him out of his hate-filled life and transported him into the light of the gospel. Paul is an unlikely apostle indeed!
We’re all unlikely candidates for discipleship, every last one of us. Just look around the typical church sanctuary. There are no super-Christians - only ordinary people, hesitant in their faith, sometimes wavering in their commitment, oftentimes difficult to live with. As a collective group, we are sinful, hypocritical, stingy, short-tempered, insecure - in short, no different from any other gathering of human beings on this globe.
Yet haven’t we all - somewhere, sometime - heard something of God’s call in our lives? Each time we reach such a crossroads, we have a choice. We can say yes to God’s call - however hesitantly - or we can go our own way.
“Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” demands the voice of God. Isaiah says, “Here am I, send me.”
What say you?