Have you found yourself on an “Advent”-ure as we’ve considered Finding Calcutta? Do you find yourself longing for and waiting upon the coming of the Lord in your life, your neighborhood, your discipline, your campus, your nation, the creation? Do you find yourself, both as an individual and as part of the Body of Christ, stepping into the new heavens and the new earth? When the Caller speaks, whether in the midst of the mundane or the extraordinary, are you embracing the call?
- God’s Role as the Caller:
- To be called is to know the Caller. As Os Guinness emphasizes in The Call, we have an “Audience of One” (71).
- The Father called us through His Son and the forgiveness of our sins through reconciliation.
- Our God is the God of righteousness and the God of justice. His purposes are beyond us. This acknowledgment leads us to consider, “What is our appropriate and humble response?”
- Our Role in Calling
- Accept forgiveness and readily give it to others. “Holding onto unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die.” — Mary Poplin. Finding Calcutta: What Mother Teresa Taught Me About Meaningful Work and Service. InterVarsity Press. 2008, 115.
- “Mother Teresa always said that it was best for people to give until it hurt them, for then it was real sacrifice to God.” – Poplin, 125.
- Our life in living out our calling is one of continual growth. In Appendix A: A Brief History of the University and Dominant Worldviews, Poplin draws attention to the value of 2 Peter 1:5-7 for those engaged in higher education.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. — 2 Peter 1:3-9
What is the Impact of Our Calling?
Our faith is not hidden; it impacts our workplace
- In Radical Feminism, Radical Marxism, Radical Love (Veritas Forum. University of Wyoming. 10/26/2010), Mary Poplin spoke about her “secret” exploration of becoming a Christian. To paraphrase her, she knew that her secular humanist and/or pantheistic worldview had given her significant capital in academia and she knew that becoming a Christian (publicly) would do just the opposite. How does being a Christian impact you on your campus, in your workplace? In other words, how does following your calling impact how others view you at work and in the community?
- Mother Teresa was forbidden, strictly speaking, from proselytizing. While she did indeed talk constantly about Jesus, the Missionaries of Charity let Jesus be seen in their actions of love.
The character of Jesus is found in who we are and what we do.
- Mary Poplin’s rubric for research is How do you make education work for the poorest of the poor? (Poplin, 61). What is your rubric for research? How would you summarize your calling? If you haven’t already articulated “a statement,” take a few minutes to summarize your calling (or a part of your working out your calling) in terms you understand and embrace. As part of the process consider how you may already articulate, discuss, and refine your calling in the midst of your colleagues without even realizing it.
- It’s important to recognize “Justice is not (just) an idea.” Mary Poplin quotes Mother Teresa, “Justice can only be done when each of us are doing what God has called us to do.”
Remember Jesus has warned us not be surprised if hated by the world (even if you’re about justice). Why? Because the world hated Him (John 15:18).
- Paraphrasing Finding Calcutta (156), in today’s world, Mother Teresa’s actions and words remain utterly incomprehensible to most. They certainly are offensive to most. In her calling, she illustrated the power of complete dependence on God. She entered into the poverty of those she helped, to those she showed Jesus in her ministry.
- In a story from Todd Lake, Mother Teresa’s Harvard Commencement address is reported by Harvard Magazine with the omission of the innumerable times she talked about Jesus (Poplin, 156).
- And of course there is Mother Teresa’s note regarding Christopher Hitchens’ book, The Missionary Position, which abusively critiqued the financial dealings and validity of her ministry (Poplin, 53-56). She noted that “God had already forgiven him” (115). The other sisters took the book as a calling for them to become more holy.
The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. — 1 Peter 4:7-11
I pray that as you take your first steps in “Advent,” you likewise find yourself
- longing for and waiting upon the coming of the Lord in your life, your neighborhood, your discipline, your campus, your nation, the creation.
- taking first steps into the new heavens and the new earth, both as an individual and part of the Body of Christ.
- embracing the call of the Caller and confessing when you have not done so.
Note: Genesis of the series: You’ll notice the influence of Head, Heart & Hands, Os Guiness’ “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life,” and “Why Christian Apologetics?”* As with the Head, Heart & Hands series, the material is drawn from an adult elective at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (EBIC) facilitated by Kevin Milligan in coordination with the author speaking for our Christian Scholar Series (an EBIC-ESN partnership). In Spring 2011, Mary Poplin spoke in Pittsburgh, South Central PA, and Baltimore as part of an ESN partnership with Undergraduate Ministry and Graduate & Faculty Ministry. To God be the glory!
*To skim or not to skim: A ‘case’ study of “Christian Apologetics” and Why Christian Apologetics – Hell on Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for the Biblical Faith (IVP. 2011). More posts on topic coming.
About the author:
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the Northeast Regional Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). For a number of years, the Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine was the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!