Many Christians understand that Christianity involves a call to forgiveness of sins and to being saved in a new relationship with God, but they don’t think very far beyond that. The Bible makes it clear that being called to be saved is actually only the first half of God’s purpose for us, and it is imperative for every Christian to understand what should follow.
We can see God’s purpose for those He calls out foreshadowed in the Old Testament in the Israelites being called out of, and delivered from slavery in Egypt (a type of sin - Hosea 8:13, 11:1). The story tells how the Children of Israel kept the first Passover with shed lamb’s blood granting them life in the same way Christians look to the shed blood of Christ. Israel was then delivered from Egypt into a new life through the “baptism” of the Red Sea (1 Corinthians 10:1-2). But God’s purpose for the Israelites did not stop there. Notice the specific words God used in instructing Moses of His purpose in this deliverance:
“ … when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain” (Exodus 3:12).
The Israelites were free from bondage to their captors, but they were not called to aimless freedom – God made it clear that they were called not only to be something, but to do something. They were called not only to be saved, but also to serve.
When we move to the New Testament, we find exactly the same principle. The New Testament scriptures show that we are called to be many things: to belong to Christ (Romans 1:6), to be His people (Romans 1:7), to be His freed people (1 Corinthians 7:22), and so one – but we are also called to do something as well. We see this promised in the words of John the Baptist's father Zechariah who spoke of the redeemer who would come:
“ …to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear” (Luke 1:74).
The connection between the calling out of Israel and the work of Christ is unmistakable in these words, but it is spelled out in complete clarity as we proceed through the New Testament. We see it particularly clearly in two scriptures from the writings of Paul which tie the two halves of our calling together. Notice first, in Galatians:
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13).
Paul tells us here that like the ancient Israelites, we were indeed called to be free, but that freedom is not for us to use as we wish, but to serve one another. The same truth is found in Paul’s letter to the Romans and elsewhere. It is a basic truth of Christianity, yet one many Christians do not always grasp or put into practice. The truth is that “being saved” is only the first part of our calling. It is in going on to serve God and others that we complete it.
The Book of Revelation takes this fact to the end of the New Testament. Twice in that book the great purposes of our calling are summarized in the future which we are promised: a future in which we not only are to be something, but also to do something:
“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10 and see also Revelation 1:6).
The message is consistent throughout the Bible. We are not just called to be saved; we are also called to serve. That service may be anything from digging wells in Africa or spreading the Gospel in India to helping the sick or just writing encouraging letters to believers needing fellowship. But the fact is, if we wish to truly embrace what Christianity is all about, rather than seeing the Christian life as being called to be saved, we should perhaps see it as being saved to serve.