The most urgent call upon God?s people is to live as followers of Jesus.
The most indicting critique against the church is as simple: its failure to do so.
As the leader of an evangelical theological seminary that trains men and women as leaders for the church and society, Mark Labberton writes:
"People ask many questions about how their lives relate to the world. What are our lives in this world about? What are we to make of being human? Why are we here? Is there a reason we are alive, and, if so, how would we know what that is? These questions are brought on at times by beauty and joy, but also by the daunting facts of our own lives or of the world around us. We look around in doubt, in pain, in suffering. These are human questions asked throughout history by those inside and outside the church."
We long to renew our hope for a world broken and hurting. And it is we, God?s people living in the power of the Holy Spirit, who are called to become this hope and flourish while in exile. Here is the crisis: we are made and redeemed for this calling, but it slides through our fingers. Here is the promise: living and practicing who and why we are is our Christian vocation whenever and wherever we may be.
Will you answer the call?
"Reading Dr. Mark Labberton?s book Called is like taking a glass of cold water after a long, tedious and dreary journey on foot under the tropical African heat. Simply put: it is refreshing. It is re-assuring. It is practical. But it is also troubling . . . because the observations Mark makes are sadly true. There is a crisis of following Jesus today. Most of what we profess, our lives and attitudes and what we have become as Christians and churches, contradict our primary calling. Called is therefore a call to repentance. As I read each of the chapters, I cannot but cry out to Jesus: 'Lord have mercy; Christ have mercy; Lord have mercy.'"
"Mark Labberton uses fresh language and powerful word pictures to give readers easy access to deep truth. What a gift! Called is fine food for both the head and the heart. He extends a compelling invitation to live out the large life of Jesus in a world that is at once both beautiful and broken. He emphasizes the fact that you can't live this life alone. It can only be lived in the close company of others who have heard the call of Jesus to simply 'Follow me.'"
"Too often we settle for a 'calling' that is really just sanctified individualism, paddling in the shallows of the self. This book pursues the deeper questions of flourishing, sacrifice, community and transformation that are the heart of the Christian life."
"Much of the most critical wisdom I have gleaned in my own life has come from the mentorship of Mark Labberton. Called brings together so many of the 'aha!' moments that so many have experienced from Mark's leadership, and offers these truly urgent insights in the form of a gift to anyone who opens this book. . . . This book needs to be read far and wide amongst followers of Jesus all over the world, because it clarifies in profound depths what we very most need to remember as we wake to each new day God gives. There is one call, and but One who calls, and the invitation to be answered is 'Follow Me.'"
"Mark Labberton is a source of wisdom and deep friendship to me personally and to the whole of IJM as we join God's invitation to seek justice in the world. In this latest book, Mark offers the gift of great clarity in the midst of urgency. Jesus beckons, 'Follow me' and he shows us the path—love. Love God, love your neighbor. Mark's teaching helps us understand this simple, powerful call to follow, to love. This is what we must most urgently know and do and live. This is the call that will transform the world as we answer."
"When I read Mark Labberton's writing I can almost hear Jesus say, 'Well, there it is. That's what I was literally dying to tell you.' This book is a call to free the church from its distractions in order to return to the most profound and basic question—what does it mean to follow Jesus?"
"The New Community as heralded by Jesus seems completely alien to the present culture in which it resides . . . forgiving, loving, reconciling, serving and transparency, as virtues increasingly stand out in a world of barriers, posturing and communal disparity. A trusted cultural navigator and biblical guide, Mark Labberton identifies key principles and practices for the Christ-follower to not simply exist but to flourish. Road tested. If all one did was incorporate the end of chapter practices into their daily routine, the impact dividend would be earth transforming."
"Called is a book that will call to you with a vision for a life well lived in God's presence in the world that God loves."
"Following Jesus is both the greatest opportunity and highest challenge ever afforded the human race. Mark Labberton sheds vivid light on life's ultimate path."
"Christian leadership should arise from a calling to God's kingdom rather than manipulated as a means to build a personal empire. Called challenges us to renew our calling to follow Jesus as servant leaders for God's kingdom. This important text offers us an opportunity to learn at the feet of a seasoned leader who offers insightful stories and practical application to spur us toward life as salt and light in the world."
"This book is a warm, visionary invitation to rediscover the joy of following Jesus. It resists simplistic dichotomies, unfolding a biblical vision that embraces both prayer and action, both the mundane and the extraordinary, both suffering and rejoicing, both global and local concerns, both individual and communal engagement. The book will serve as a compelling, generative resource for both individuals and congregations."
"I read everything Mark Labberton writes and his newest sings the songs of the kingdom. You will want to read Called."
1. Called to Flourish
2. A Lost Church in a Lost World
3. The Primary Call
4. Relocating: Where Are We Called?
5. Reorienting: How Are We Called?
6. Refocusing: To Whom and What Are We Called?
7. The Way of the Beloved
8. The Way of Wisdom
9. The Way of Suffering
10. So What Does God Call Me To Do?
Epilogue: Light and Salt