This will be the first of a five-part series in which I look at the hero’s journey as a model or structure for understanding the Christian’s journey. As we look at the life of a Christian – our journey – as described in Scripture, we see that it lines up well with the hero’s journey.
First, a very brief description to the hero’s journey. The hero’s journey is a literary device used to tell a story in which a person grows in wisdom, knowledge, and strength and thus is able to defeat the antagonist of the story. This device was used quite effectively in movies like Star Wars and The Matrix.
Depending on which hero’s journey structure you look at, it will contain various numbers of steps or stages. However, despite the differences, there are five core stages that exist within most (if not all) models, and it is those five that I’ll be using for this series. Those stages are:
- The Call
- The Wise Mentor
- The Struggle
- The Growth
- The Victory
Each article in this series will examine and explain one of those stages as it relates to the Christian journey. In this article, I’ll look at stage one: the call.
The Gospel Call: Two Types
Each Christian’s journey, like the hero’s, begins with a call. That is, the person is invited to go on the journey. For a Christian, this call is the gospel call, and it consists of two types of calls: the human call and the divine call. These two calls – human and divine – often go by various names, but whatever they may be called, we do see each of them in Scripture. First, let’s look at the human call.
The Human Call
What is the human call? The human call is when one person shares the gospel with another person and then invites them to respond to the gospel message. This is evangelism, or sharing the gospel of Jesus, and we see this call in Scripture. For example, in Luke 14, Jesus tells a parable about a master who is holding a banquet. He wants many people to attend, so he sends his servant out with instructions to invite people to come to the banquet. In verse 23, Jesus says,
23 And the master said to the servant, “Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.”
In this parable, Jesus (who is the master) is telling his servant (who is you and I), to invite people to come to the banquet. In other words, you and I are commanded to share the gospel with others and invite them to put their faith in Jesus.
We see the human call mentioned later in Luke’s gospel:
45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
Jesus is telling his disciples – including you and I – that the gospel of Jesus’ death for the forgiveness of sins, his physical resurrection, and repentance is to be preached to everyone all over the world. We later see the human call being issued by Peter in the book of Acts:
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Here, Peter has just preached the gospel and now asks the listeners to respond to what they just heard.
Thus, we see from Scripture that there is a human call aspect of the gospel call, but what about the divine call?
The Divine Call
The divine call is when God himself invites a person to respond to the gospel message. While God can issue this call at any time, according to Scripture, it occurs through the preaching of the gospel (Rom 10:14-17; Acts 2:14-41). Through the divine call, God not only calls people to respond to the gospel, but he also convicts them of their sin. We see the divine call addressed at least twice in John’s gospels.
In John 6, Jesus is addressing some disbelieving Jews who are not accepting what he is telling them. The apostle records Jesus’ response:
43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”
Jesus makes it clear that God himself sends people to Jesus. This is the divine call. However, Jesus again references this call in John 16 where Jesus is teaching about the work of the Holy Spirit:
8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
As you can see, Jesus tells us that part of the work of the third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit, is convicting people of their sin. This is, again, is a reference to the divine call in which the Holy Spirit convicts a sinner and invites him or her to respond by repenting of their sin in faith.
Thus, we see in Scripture that the gospel call consists of both a human call and a divine call. The question, how is, how can people respond.
How People Can Respond
People can respond one of two ways: they can either reject the call, not repent, and remain condemned in their sin; or they can accept the call, repent of their sins, put their faith in Jesus, and be saved. Each of these responses are recorded in Scripture.
In John 3, we see Jesus telling us that there will be some who reject the call:
36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Jesus tells us in this verse that there will be those who will “not obey,” that is, they will reject the gospel of Jesus. We see this also in Romans. Paul writes about Jews who have heard the gospel message, yet refuse to put their faith in Jesus:
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”
Thus, we see in Scripture that some people will reject the gospel message after hearing it. Some, though, will accept it and be saved. If you have put your faith in Christ, you know from experience that there are those who will accept Jesus. Scripture also makes this clear:
- The Roman jailer and his family accepted the call after hearing the gospel (Acts 16:16-34)
- Peter rejoices over those who accepted the call (1 Pet 2:24-25)
Thus, Scripture makes it clear that as we evangelize, some will accept the call while others will not. So, what should we do with this knowledge?
Bringing It Home
Just as the hero’s journey begins with a call, a Christian’s journey begins with a call: the gospel call. The gospel call occurs when people preach the gospel and ask people to respond, and when God himself calls people to respond and people can either reject the gospel or accept it. Now, what should we do about this?
If you’re a Christian, remember Paul’s command: preach the word (2 Tim 4:2). We must proclaim the gospel; we must share the gospel! We must tell others that we are sinners and we cannot save ourselves. Jesus, though, came down, shed his blood on the cross to pay for sins, and on the third day he physically rose again. Every single man, woman and child who puts his or her faith in Jesus alone and repents of his or her sins is saved.
If you’re not a Christian, now is the time to repent of your sins. Put your faith in Jesus, turn away from sin, and trust Jesus. He died on the cross and shed his blood so that you could be forgiven. He wants to save you! Tomorrow is not promised to you, so will you put your faith in him today?