As Christians we are called people. We have been “called out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). We are called (created) in Christ Jesus “to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). And, we are called to ministry (Eph 4:12). Each of these calls is true for all Christians – not just the professional ministers. When we understand this truth, Paul’s talk of his own calling in Romans 15:14-22 comes alive. No, many of us won’t be able to relate to his specific calling. At the same time, as called people, we can certainly learn from Paul’s pursuit of his own call.
So, what do we learn about Paul’s calling here in Romans 15? First, Paul calls his ministry a “grace from God.” We can take the term “grace” on two levels: (1) God has graced Paul with abilities and authority to perform his calling, and (2) God has graciously allowed Paul to join in his plan. The same is true of us. Each of us has been graced in some way for service. We often call these graces spiritual gifts. Likewise, we have each been invited to join God in his work.
Second, we learn that Paul took pride in the grace he was given. Of course, Paul is very careful to qualify this pride. Paul doesn’t glory in what he has accomplished himself. Instead, he glories in what Christ has accomplished through him. The idea here is that Paul revels in the idea that God has chosen to work through him. And he glories in the reality that God really does just that. Once again, the same can be true of us. It is an amazing thing to be chosen and empowered to join God in his work. Like Paul, we can glory in the fact that God uses us.
Third, we learn that Paul was ambitious in the pursuit of his calling. In his own life, Paul was ambitious to preach the gospel where it had never been heard. In our lives, we can be ambitious to use the graces God has given us to the greatest extent possible.
You have been graced by God for ministry. You can and should glory in this reality. And, you can ambitiously pursue the work before you. Do you believe this? If so, do you act like it is true?