“What is my calling? It is to make known something about God that is bound to my unique face, name, and story. It is to reveal God through my character.”
What got me reeling was not only the fresh definition of calling, but the undertones of a redefining of what it means to be made in the image of God. Growing up in church and studying the Bible throughout college, I came to understand that being in the image of God meant we looked like Him and we were given free will and an eternal soul. While these things are true, I have come to see that the image God has given us is one more of character than physical being or eternal state. Think about it, God has built in each one of us a unique perspective of His character whether we believe in Him or not.
Going back to my previous understanding of character, I thought character was something you had to build through denying myself this or that or conjuring up some strength within me to act a certain way. Seeing I have an image of God’s character built in me has given me more worth. Instead of placing my worth on what I do and how I act, I can now place my worth on who God created me to be. The fall has created in us what Paul calls in Romans 7:18 “flesh” which has no good in it. The flesh is who we (our true selves) are at war with internally. My former concept of character told me I had to win this war with willpower and strength either my own or divine. How foolish was I? It is Christ’s blood that has won the war and sets me free to let God’s image be revealed!! Although battles still rage (some won; some lost), the outcome does not change the fact that a unique part of God’s character still resides in me and you as well.
This brings us to the unique quality in Dr. Allender’s definition. To Be Told is about the story of your life, my life, everybody’s life. No one else has your life nor can tell your story the way you can. Likewise, no one else can reveal God’s character the way you can. The things we have gone through along with our dreams, passions and desires have all purposefully shaped us into unique images of God. Only Jesus has the right to claim the full and perfect image of God. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”(John14:9) If I made that claim, it would not paint a very good picture of the Father. If you were to say that, I would call you a liar. I have yet to meet a person, other than Christ, who has the full character of God as I see it. I say that yet, my view of God’s character changes about as often as I change my underwear. (That is everyday FYI and I know TMI.) On top of that, what you see of God’s character is different from what I see yet not so different that I could say with any certainty that either of us was right or wrong. Of course we could argue about details until we hate each other and start our little denomination or sect or whatever but, that is even further from God’s character than the start of this mess. Pride is a WMD of the flesh. If you say, “I am the perfect reflection of God’s image,” then I’ll say, “You’re full of it.”(pride that is) If we are to make this image of God stuff work we need to love and be humble before one another.
God said it is not good for man to be alone, and He meant it. How many times has someone seen something in you that you failed to see in yourself? Have you seen something in someone they have yet to discover? Those somethings could be bits of God’s image shining through. If you keep putting them together, you will have a better portrait of God. The Bible is full of stories of lives and events showing the character of God. That is why Sound of Hope’s mission, “Sound of Hope Ministries exists to create and cultivate a community where the gospel can be heard and spread,” is so important. We want the list of stories and events to grow.
Finally my thoughts come to calling. I always assumed I was being called to do something. Upon reading Allender’s words I realized I was being called to be something. That something is God’s image. The image I was created with, an image that has to be excavated out of my hardened flesh. Excavating flesh is a gruesome picture. There is pain involved even death. The death I mention is a death to self. “You have died with Christ, and He has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world.”(Colossians 2:20) Being that image should cause me to do something, to bring out the image of God created in others. I want to be surrounded by people helping each other dig out and dust off God’s character hidden in each of them for His glory. Hebrews 10:24 says it best, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” To that end I will ask the questions Dr. Allender asks at the end of the chapter.
As you listen to your life, you will hear “countless words that describe your way of being, relating and engaging others. These words will help you identify your character and your role in life.” What do the themes and patterns of your life reveal about God? What wrongs do you dream of righting? What good do you dream of growing?