Specific Callings


Belief leads action. If we are not acting on our belief, we do not have true faith. To this point, I explore in Conversion and Discipleship (Chapter 2) how Jesus’ call to discipleship is for everyone. In various ways, Jesus invites anyone who hears him to follow him, and he gives no specific timeframes or tasks with general call. The call was often issued to the crowds or groups of people (See Matt. 16:24–27; Luke 14:25–35).

But there is another category of calls to follow Jesus that we find throughout the gospels. These are specific calls to particular people. A classic passage of a specific call is Mark 10:17–21. Jesus told a rich man, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21).

When we read specific calls like this, we can forget that Jesus was speaking to an individual in a particular context. Many readers have assumed that through his command to his man, Jesus was telling all disciples to get rid their possessions. But I argue that Jesus’ purpose wasn’t to convince the man to sell his goods but to get him to think about a level of faith and trust in Jesus that would enable him to leave it all behind and become a disciple. Jesus knows people’s hearts and their particular idols and strongholds (See John 2:24). In this specific calling, he wasn’t laying out a rule for all of us to give everything away. He was speaking to this man and his specific struggle. This call was what this man needed to do to follow Jesus wholeheartedly, but not necessarily what everyone else needs to do.

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This excerpt has been adapted from Conversion and Discipleship.

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