Remember Your Calling (Tues. July 19)

The word for the day is “called.” As we go about our daily life, our attention often must be given to the details of our work. But whatever we do, we have a calling. That vocation is not separated from our daily chores. It gives them meaning.

In today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, Paul speaks of his calling and his readers. He states, “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ…” (OSB vs. 1) and again “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus called to be saints…” (OSB 1:2). Today our study will remind us of the summons of God to serve Him with the little as well as big things that we do.

In our reading of 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, we find that the Apostle starts his Epistle with the most gracious words. But they are more than words of flattery before he gets to the concerns of the letter. As he begins to write, the apostle reminds the Corinthians of his calling and theirs. He writes that God had willed to call him to be an apostle (1 Cor.1:1). And the Corinthians likewise had been called–“called to be saints,” (1 Cor. 1:2); “called” to be numbered “with those who in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord…” (1 Cor. 1:2) and called into the “fellowship of His [God’s} Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:9).

The Meaning of Being Called

What does it mean to be “called”? It is striking that the apostle uses the same Greek word and its derivatives throughout the passage. The Greek words are derived from the root which means “to summon” (Strong’s #2822, 140 and #2564). Accordingly, to be called is more than to be invited. It is to be singled out and drafted for duty. Recall that when the Lord Jesus called his apostles, He had the divine authority to choose the twelve. It was not their prerogative to volunteer. It was not their mission that they were to serve.

In the same way, St. Paul’s authority as an apostle did not rest in him. St. John Chrysostom reminds us that Paul repeatedly insisted that what he proclaimed did not come from him. No credit belonged to him for His work, but all glory belonged to God (NfPf1:13, 3). St. Paul, therefore, was making the bold claim that he had divine authorization to counsel and admonish the congregation in Corinth. Moreover, his teaching was not from him but Christ.

By the same token, the Corinthians had nothing in themselves to boast about. But the Lord has called them to be “saints.” The Greek word for “saints” that St. Paul uses here is the word “holy.” That is, the believers are summoned to be  the “holy ones” of God.

Dedicated to God

Note, that to be holy is to be set apart—dedicated to God. By His own choice, not theirs, the Almighty God had claimed the Corinthians as His own. That is why the apostle calls them the “church of God.” The Greek word is a compound of the words “call” and “out.”  Thus the church is the body of those who are “called out” for a special purpose (Strong’s #1577, 81). Together with all who call on the Name of the Lord Jesus, the Corinthians, had been selected from among the nations. They had been called together to be members of a new assembly, the church. The church of which they were a part, therefore, was not a human creation but “of God” (1 Cor. 1:2). Consequently, it did not belong to any human leader.

This gathering of sanctified people was a new “fellowship,” joined together and unified in Christ. In our upcoming reading of this letter, St. Paul will remind the Corinthians again and again of their calling–their mission that comes from God. In their conflicts, pride, and toleration of sin, the congregation had forgotten the purpose for which God had selected them and brought them together in Christ. Paul will stress that this divine summons is to be the Body of Christ, a “holy communion of the faithful, a new creation set apart from the world to know the grace of God and to be united in the love of Christ.

For Reflection

If we would identify with the Corinthians, we would realize that stresses and challenges of the moment can overshadow our remembrance of our divine calling. The passions and their temptations can divert us from the Lord’s summons to holiness. And the purpose for which Christ has chosen us to be His disciples can be lost in the day-to-day grind.

Our study suggests that we ask ourselves whether we too need to be reminded of our calling–who we are, and whom we serve. If so, we must pray that the Lord of Grace will call us back to the holiness, that is the dedication to God that is our true vocation  in Christ. When we do, then all that we do from day to day will have an underlying sense of a larger purpose.

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