General vs. Specific

In my men?s small group on Thursday morning, we got into a discussion about calling…God?s plan for our lives. Through our conversation, I was reminded of an important distinction in this often debated area. I believe the scriptures teach us that there is both a general and specific calling for each of us.
The general call is one that is the same for all Christ-followers. Passages like Matthew 22:34-40 and Micah 6:8 help us understand this general calling. In Matthew, we learn from Jesus that we are all to be about loving God and loving others. From Micah, we learn that what God wants from us is to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him. The general call for all Christians is to live a life submitted to God. We know how to do that by reading and putting into practice God?s word.
The idea of a specific call, is the belief that God has gifted each of us uniquely to play a certain role in the Church. Passages like I Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 help us understand how God individually gifts his children. From these passages, we learn that we have different gifts and abilities that we are to use in service of God. The specific calling directly involves these gifts and sometimes involves being called to serve a specific people group or location.
An overemphasis on either of these ideas can cause problems. Some overemphasize the general call, even to the point of denying a specific call. This can lead to a lack of direction (think of the body imagery of I Corinthians 12…what if we all tried to be an eye?…the body wouldn?t function correctly). On the other hand, an overemphasis on the specific call, can lead to spiritual paralysis as we sit and wait for God to reveal his will. I think we have to hold both of these ideas together, knowing that it?s a life-long process of seeking after God and learning how he wants to use us for His glory.
I hope that you?re on that journey and looking for ways that God wants to use you here at ACC.
Grace,
Chris