What It Means to Be “Called”

     “Come, follow me,” Andrew is told.  We often heard it said in the pulpit, “God is calling you, too.  So respond to His call.  Follow Him.”
     But what does it mean to follow Christ?  What do we do differently?  Are we already following, or should be make some sort of change?
     From what I have learned from the Bible, the saints and their testimonies, there is always room to “follow Him” more closely, more fully, more maturely.  Whenever we hear this call, we should not think, “I am baptized.  I am a Christian.  I am already following.”  No, we should find the way in which God is calling us to follow Him more closely.  There are several key things that we need to do, to follow this call, depending on where we are in life.
    First, we need to examine ourselves in terms of Christ’s key commandments: love and forgiveness of our neighbors, and love and praise of God, and keeping Christian commandments.  We need to ask, “What are my sins, what are my faults?  Where do I fall apart, get angry, get lazy, get selfish, get jealous, get resentful?  Who are my enemies, and how do I treat them?  How often do I think of God, pray to God, relate to God, sit in the happy company of God?”
    Following Christ means discerning where we are coming up short in our Christian life, our Christian behavior, and asking God to renew us in this area of our life.  We ask God, “Give me patience,” “Fill me with humility,” or “Inundate me with a forgiving spirit–Lord, Help me to forgive!  Loosen my grip and help me to let go of my grudge!”
    Second, we need to examine whether we have made a total surrender to God.  Every person Christ encountered, from Andrew to Mary Magdelene to the blind man, made a surrender of self to Christ.  They made Him the center of our lives.  For some people, this is a one-time, dramatic moment, while for others, many small prayers of self-surrender are prayed over the course of one’s life.  Either way, we must renew our surrender to God: admitting that we are not adequate to satisfy our deepest longings or to satisfy God’s desire for us, and that only with Christ in control of our lives will we find fulfillment and peace.
    Thirdly, we follow Christ when we try to please Him in every detail of our lives.  Offering each moment to Him, doing all the big and small tasks of our daily life for Him, through Him, and with Him, is to mature as a Christian, and to fulfill our choice of self-surrender.  It is the actualization of this personal choice of the will.
     Lastly, we cannot say we are following Christ and love Him well if we are failing to love our neighbors: ALL of them.  We have to become adamant about loving with a lavish and extraordinary love those who have hurt us, those who irritate us, those who frustrate us.  We do not have to be friends with everyone; we do not have to like everyone; we do not have to choose to spend a lot of time with every one.  But we DO have to LOVE everyone: pray special blessings for them, be kind and generous to them, and to prayerfully meditate upon God’s special love for them, as His creation and as His chosen adopted children.  Only when we become perfect in our love for others can we even begin to become perfect in our love for God.
     In examining our lives and finding room for growth in any of these areas, we take a practical step closer in “following Him!”