At 17 she was a bright, beautiful, and energetic young woman with a vibrant faith in Jesus Christ. But in junior high she was a troubled girl falling in with the wrong crowd. During this time her parents became concerned with her behavior and attitude. They witnessed the change in their precious little girl. As any good parent would, they took it upon themselves to intervene through tough and tender love. In fact, they moved in order to cut the ties with the negative influences and laid down strict boundaries for her. Most importantly, they required her to go to church and actively participate in its youth group. They were fully committed to love and prayer through this difficult time.
Things didn’t change overnight. There was a lot of strong resistance. But in her sophomore year she reluctantly went on a youth retreat.
Her father said:
“When she went on that weekend she was a troubled, angry, and gloomy teenager. She returned a changed person, sold out to Jesus; a change that would make a lasting impact on all who knew her. The joy returned. Her beautiful smile found its way into hearts again. She had a purpose for living and that changed the way she lived.”
When two troubled young men entered the library of Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, everyone hit the floor. One of the gunmen yelled out, “Anybody here believe in God?” Cassie Brunell was the only one who stood up to face the gunmen and said, “Yes, I believe in God. I belong to the Lord Jesus.” The gunmen asked “Why?,” and before she could even answer the question, he killed her instantly.
Two days before her death Cassie had shared part of her new life on a video. She said, “You really can’t live without Christ. It’s like, impossible to have a really true life without Him.”
Courageously embracing her call, Cassie’s life would forever be highlighted by that unholy moment. George F. Kennan once said, “Heroism is endurance for one moment more.” That’s what makes a hero! Cassie was a hero for Jesus.
At the age of 17, Cassie possessed a called, commissioned, and courageous heart! She was an ordinary person who was called for an extraordinary moment.
In the verses that Paul speaks and writes in Colossians, he shares his convictions and passion for his calling.
It is important to remember that he is writing to people he had never met. They didn’t know him at all except by reputation. It is also important to note that he is writing this in prison! You can imagine how much more difficult it would be to articulate his calling behind bars.
But here, Paul begins to share a glimpse of his heart and his passion. He shares his love for the Lord, but also the sacrifice he has made for the sake of the Lord, the Church, and the world.
THE PERSONAL CALL
One thing is clear. Everything he does for Christ is because of his personal call to ministry.
In verse 25 (NIV) Paul writes:
“I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness.”
And in the beginning of this letter, Paul opens with, “I, Paul, an apostle by the will of God commissioned by the will of God.”
Paul is saying, “I didn’t choose this, I was chosen for it! God did something in my life, and in turning my life around, He commissioned (called) me to become a servant; a servant of the Gospel!”
In The Salvation Army many may hear that word ‘commission’ and think it does not relate to them. Some may think it is a term delegated for those who are officers, soldiers, and lay leaders.
Paul, however, is saying we all have a commission—a calling! And that it should be lived out through our lives with passion, commitment, and even courage. It is certainly what fuels Paul in the midst of dealing with challenging times, crummy circumstances, and prickly people.
How many times have we been asked the question, or have heard it said to someone else, “Are you called”?
Indeed, it is a question we hear divvyed out like candy in Salvation Army circles. Friends, I hope you’re not put-off by that question.
My call to ministry did not involve a horse or being blinded for three days like the apostle Paul. No. It was gradual. Did I have a moment of clarity—yes! Certainly! However, it was a process that God revealed to me in a variety of different settings and through a variety of different people. God began to put some of these things together and they began to add up.
During that time I took a personal inventory of my soul.
- I looked at what I loved.
- I looked at whom I loved.
- I looked at my God-given gifts and how and where they may be used.
It seemed to only point in one direction for me. Eureka! I had finally uncovered my calling! It was my soul-singing moment of clarity. Want to know the humorous part? It was exactly what I rallied against for so many years.
Here’s the point. Things began to make sense regarding my personal call only when I began to honestly seek God’s direction for my life.
Friends, ministry does not begin with me, and it doesn’t begin with you. It begins with a sense of a personal call of God on our lives and what we’ve been commissioned to do for the sake of the Gospel.
THE COST OF THE CALL
But there’s something else to the additional sense of a personal call that Paul talks about. He talks about the cost of the call.
In verse 24 (NIV) we read:
“Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body which is the church.”
He continues in verse 29 (NIV):
“To this end, I strenuously contend with all His energy which so powerfully works in me.”
What Paul is saying is when you decide to follow Jesus there is a cost and a price you have to pay.
Some of you have already had to face that in terms of school or even family members. There is a price we have to pay in following the call of Christ.
But sacrifice is not about doom and gloom. I certainly admire people who have sacrificed for the call. But it’s important to understand the words that Paul uses to preface his remarks. He says, “Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you” (Colossians 1:24a, NIV).
It doesn’t make it easy. It doesn’t take away some of the fears and anxiety or the hurts and pain. But we can rejoice in what God is doing!
“Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24, NIV).
THE PURPOSE OF THE CALL
The last thing I want you to see is the purpose that Paul sees for his entire ministry. All roads lead to one destination. It is summarized in verse 28-29, but especially verse 28 (NKJV) where we read:
“Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”
What’s the goal? What are we about? It is to present everyone perfect in Christ.
Now “perfect” is not what you think. If it is, we are all in deep trouble. “Perfect” means to be mature, complete, full-grown, self-sufficient believers.
The goal is to make everyone perfect in Christ— mature and full-grown! As we witnessed in the life of Cassie, it really has little to do with age. Our call is not to be a mile wide, and an inch deep. We need to plumb the depths as a follower of Christ!
Friends, your purpose in life, like Cassie Brunell’s, is bound in accepting your personal call and being courageous and contagious in your love for Jesus! God is looking for that kind of person today!
- Our calling and commission is intimate and personal.
- Our calling and commission can be costly.
- Our calling and commission is ripe with purpose.
Once uncovered, it is up to us to passionately proclaim to the world, “I am a believer! I belong to Jesus!” That takes incredible courage, but it makes life a whole lot more meaningful and enriching.
CALLED, COMMISSIONED & COURAGEOUS CHRISTIANS IN HISTORY
Fill in the last names.
- One of the first people to print the Bible in English, he worked on translating the Bible even when it was deemed to be an illegal act. He was executed for blasphemy after years of avoiding capture.
William T __ __ __ __ __ __ (1494–1536)
- This man successfully campaigned with others for the abolishment of slavery. He felt slavery was incompatible with his Christian conscience.
William W __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ (1759–1833)
- A British Quaker who campaigned for better conditions in prisons, she also set up charities for the homeless and poor. She was a leading social reformer of the Victorian period and helped women to become more accepted in social campaigns.
Elizabeth F __ __ (1780–1845)
- Together with his wife, he founded The Salvation Army and become its first general.
William B __ __ __ __ (1829–1912)
- This Olympic 400-meter champion turned down the opportunity to run in the 100m because heats involved participating on Sunday, which he considered sacred.
Eric L __ __ __ __ __ __ (1902–1945)
- He was a Lutheran pastor who was an influential critic of Hitler and Nazism. He was arrested in 1943 for conspiring against the Nazi regime and was executed in 1945. His theology and writings remain influential today.
Dietrich B __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ (1906–1945)
Answers: TYNDALE, WILBERFORCE, FRY, BOOTH, LIDDELL, BONHOEFFER
Captain William Francis | Senior Instructor | College for Officer Training | Western Territory