Summary: We all have to hear the call of the world and the call of our Savior. It’s up to us, though, how much we listen, and how much attention we pay to each call.
Calling -- Whose Call Will You Answer?
Since school is starting (or already has started), I wanted to begin a new series on calling and what it means to be called. Before we can really get into the meat and potatoes of calling, I felt it important to first describe the different callings at work in all of our lives.
In 1903, a man named Jack London published a book titled The Call of the Wild. This book went on to become a great success, and is rightly considered one of the greatest books ever written by an American author.
In the book, a dog named Buck is stolen from a ranch in the Santa Clara Valley in California. He is taken to Yukon, Canada to pull a sled during the gold rush. While in the Yukon he begins to revert to a wild state -- by the end of the book, he’s no longer the calm, domesticated dog he was in California but becomes the leader of a wolf pack in the Yukon, fully wild.
Buck was originally a domesticated pet -- fully content with his place in life. He belonged to his master, and he was OK with that. Buck’s master in California made the rules.
When he was stolen, he was beaten and mistreated -- sometimes starved, sometimes overfed to the point where he couldn’t run or pull a sled anymore. His life became chaotic. The only rules that applied to his life now were hurt or be hurt and never disobey the humans. His main focus shifted from obeying his master to looking out for himself.
About two-thirds of the way through the book, Buck is rescued by a man named Thornton. Thornton loved Buck, and treated him well. Buck no longer had to worry about protecting himself -- he had a good, loving master again! For the first time, Buck knew what love was -- because he could compare how Thornton treated him with how his previous masters treated him. The book says, “Love, genuine passionate love, was his for the first time.” But the call of the wild was too strong. Buck made friends with a wild wolf, and began spending more and more time with the wolfpack. One day Buck returned to the camp where he lived with Thornton to discover his master was killed by Indians. Buck snapped, killed the Indians, and ran off to join the wolfpack, completely removing any last traces of civilization in his life.
Buck’s life is more than just a story about a dog -- it’s a parallel to our own lives. Like Buck, we are thrown into a world of violence and heartache, and it often feels like our master is far away, never to be seen or heard from again. But then something changes -- we start going to church, or we make friends with a strong Christian person -- and for the first time, we really understand love. We get saved, we rest in the love and peace of our Savior -- but the call of the world is strong. What makes us different than Buck is that when our Master was killed, He came back! That means the choice becomes ours -- do we answer the call of our Savior, or the call of the world?
In order to answer that question, we need to first understand what these calls really are. What is the call of the world? How is it different than the call of our Savior? Let’s look a little deeper...
The call of the world says to SURVIVE. Protect yourself first, and live at all costs. Kill or be killed. Everything we do requires a fight of some sort -- fighting for food, or money, or respect, or fame. Fighting to continue living the quality of life that we feel we are owed. The call of the world promises self-glorification, but at the cost of a life-long, never-ending struggle.
The call of our Savior, on the other hand, says the exact opposite. Survival is important, don’t get me wrong. Paul says in Philippians 1:21-24, “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. 23I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. 24But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.” Here, Paul is telling the members of the church at Philippi that even though he would much rather be in Heaven (and who wouldn’t?), he is more concerned with their lives than his own. Already, this is different than the call of the world -- instead of “looking out for Number One”, he’s concerned with the welfare of everyone around him. He’s truly loving his neighbor.