Influencers Devotionals, Blog

The Calling by Bryan Craig

September 20, 2022


Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.  1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Thirty-five years ago, in a fraternity living room at Oklahoma State, God used a traveling preacher to confirm a thought that I might be “called” into ministry.  At the time, this made absolutely NO sense, given my lifestyle at the time.  I didn’t go to church, wasn’t part of a campus ministry, didn’t read my Bible, barely knew how to pray and mostly, I looked like every hedonistic young man I knew on campus.  Five years later, this thought was still lingering in the recesses of my mind, and I wrote to the preacher.  God made sure he got my letter, even though he had moved from the address he had given me five years earlier. At this time, I was in the working world, and I was now married, but my life still did not look like a man called into ministry.  In my letter to the man, I told him this.  He wrote me back, and he quoted 1 Thessalonians 5:24 in his response, “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”  He seemed to be saying, “God is the One who is calling you into ministry… He will do it.  He will make it clear to you.”

Here I am, all these years later, living out this calling in full-time ministry. I can tell you it took a lot of years, a lot of “sifting”, a lot of soul preparation through struggles and trials, to get me ready to take the step of faith to join Influencers on staff. But I am so thankful, and I know this is my calling.

But I was reading the passage in 1 Thessalonians 5 the other day, and verse 23 shed some new light on this “calling.”  Paul says:

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Paul is not talking about a calling into professional ministry.  Paul is talking about a calling for all believers.  It is a calling to Sanctification.  Now, I know this is one of those big, churchy words that can easily be glossed over, but it is important.  It is your calling, if you are a disciple of Christ.  Let’s start with a dictionary definition:



the action of making or declaring something holy.

the action or process of being freed from sin or purified.

the action of causing something to be or seem morally right or acceptable.

As I read the definition, I see that God wants to make us holy, He wants to free us from sin, He wants to make us morally right, and it strikes me with concern how often I and my fellow followers of Christ do not look like this.  Yet, this is the calling for all believers…it is a higher calling, to be set apart, to look different from everyone else in the world.  And if you are like me, your mind is quickly thinking about how you can make yourself holy, and if so, you will feel woefully inadequate.  This is where Verse 24 is good news, “He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.”

This is where Abiding comes in.  We daily seek Him in His Word, we surrender ourselves and all our inadequacies to Him and we trust His Spirit to guide our lives.  When He is in charge of our lives, we look more like Him.  Jesus already died for all of our sins. He cleansed us and made us white as snow in God’s eyes.  Our job is to walk with Him and let His light shine through us.  So, in essence, all believers in Christ are “called” into ministry!

In case you need a soul check to see if you are living out your “calling” to ministry, I read Ephesians 4:17-32 the other day, where Paul really drew a distinction between those who are following Christ and those who are not.  You should read it and journal it yourselves, but here’s a few highlights.

Those who do not know Christ:

  • Darkened in their understanding of God due to a futility in their thinking about life.
  • Alienated from the life of God due to ignorance of the good news.
  • They have hard, callous hearts.
  • They have given themselves over to sensuality.
  • They are greedy.
  • They practice every kind of impurity.

Paul is making sure the people understand that this is NOT the way believers in Christ live.  If anyone feels like he looks like this, Paul encourages us to put off our old selves, to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, to put on a new self, which looks like God in righteousness and holiness.

Then, this is what your life will start looking like:

  • No more falsehood
  • No more anger that leads to sin
  • No more stealing
  • Generosity toward others in need
  • No more corrupt talk coming out of your mouth, but only encouraging, graceful words
  • No more grieving the Holy Spirit
  • No more bitterness and wrath
  • No more clamor and slander and malice
  • Kindness toward one another
  • Tenderheartedness
  • Forgiveness toward others

Paul wrote these words a few thousand years ago, but they speak to us today.  God is calling you to “Sanctification” because He wants us to show this dark world what He looks like.  He truly wants “all men to be saved.”  He needs us “ministers” to live it out in our homes, in our workplaces, in our churches, in our communities. 

And as we have learned in Influencers, the secret to living this kind of life is to let Him sanctify us through Abiding!