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July 05, 2006

Comments

stewman

bob,

i don't really have a peace about your post.

todd

Bob

Todd,

I don't know what to tell you... I prayed that God would open a door if he wanted me to post this, and he did.

Patrick

I got a call that told me to write on this issue. However, it was not from God, just from Bob.

I have been thinking a lot lately about my motivations vs. what God has called me to do. Last year, I decided to stay at my church rather than go with Bob’s church plant. I said to everyone that I felt called to stay at 8:08 since everyone else was leaving. This made me feel good, like I was valued, being used by God, and I truly felt like I was doing His will. Well, this morning I went to Coram Deo because some guy from Texas who is obsessed with coffee was coming to visit and said I should come. Now this guy, Will Walker, is pretty cool and wrote a good book so I decided I should pay them a visit. I wanted to check out what was going on down there anyway. But some funny things happened last night and this morning as I was getting ready to go down there. First, I began to think about what I was going to wear. I never do that when I go to church. I usually just don’t care. But I did today. On top of that, I began talking to the people I knew I was going to see, actually practicing conversations with them in my head. Pretty crazy, I know. I started thinking about that and why I was doing it and discovered that it was all about acceptance. I wanted to feel accepted by that community. In the past I had never felt totally accepted by them. And it is not because they are jerks; they love me for some weird reason. It had nothing to do with whether or not they accepted me and everything to do with the fact that I crave being accepted and thought of as cool; my own insecurity. While reflecting on that, I thought about if God had really called me to stay at 8:08 or if I just wanted to because I knew I would be accepted there and feared I would not be elsewhere. (For the record, everyone there showed me nothing but love this morning and I am grateful for that to all of you, especially you Bob and Will.)

Most of the time when I do things, it is not because God calls me to do them, it is usually because I want to. I thought long and hard about asking this girl out and asked God if that’s what he wanted me to do. God never told me what to do, but I really wanted to date her so I asked her out. Instead of saying “God help me do what your will is,” I finally just said “God this is what I want to do, so help me to honor you in it.” I may be taking this a bit out of context, but Deuteronomy 29:29(a) says “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever.” Let God worry about those big unseen things and don’t be afraid to take responsibility for actions. Most of us know what the will of God is. But we need to stop twisting those words to fit what we want; just say “I want to do this,” not "God's calling me to...” God likes honesty and doesn’t like his name being used in vain.

JD

Great post, Bob. So true.

J.T.

I've been thinking about this one for a little while. I find I have very mixed, often contradictory thoughts on it, and tend to have more questions than answers.

I can think of three times when I was confident God was calling me to something. Two were for summer mission trips, one was about a girl. I ended up being two for three (I went on both the trips). When faced with the one that didn't happen, I had so many questions. I was so sure! What did it mean about the other things I thought God might be calling me to? How would I know in the future if God was really calling me to something or not?

I've been presented with "God is calling me to..." arguments from others making decisions that deeply impacted my life, many in the context of romantic relationships. Sometimes they were things that made me happy (and we started dating), but sometimes they were things that made me sad (and we broke up). Sometimes I believed that God really was speaking, sometimes I doubted heavily. This raised a whole new set of questions in my mind. When, and how, should I call a person on it? Should I ever believe it? Do I just assume that, even if it's not God speaking, the other person's mind is made up and I just have to accept it?

It seems that there's a lack of is good, honest discussion. Most discussion is either when "God is calling...(end of discussion)" or very flip usage such as Bob's closing line.

For what it's worth, I lean more towards the take responsibilty side of things now, but it's certainly set in stone.

Eric

Where do I start? I am normally a lurker but I think I’ll bite here. I may be way off the traditional view of this subject, but these are my current thoughts.

Regarding the biblical “calling,” we seem to have built up the idea of a "call" into something that simply was not known in the days of the early church. While God has "called" certain people to specific tasks in the past (Rom 1:1, 1 Cor 1:1, Acts 13:2, 16:9-10), divine assignments like these seem to be the exception to the rule (not to mention each involved supernatural revelation). There are several other uses (Matt 9:13, Rom 8:28-30) which are irrelevant in this discussion because they aren’t used in the same sense as what Christians today normally refer to when they speak of “being called”.

That said, three main groups of people who use the phrase “I feel called” come to mind. The first group includes, as you had mentioned, those who might use it to mask (and sometimes excuse) real, and possibly painful, explanations for their decisions. The explanation sounds spiritual, and usually accepted at face value. After all, who can disagree with God? With this group, whether or not they realize the term’s misuse is beside the point.

The second group includes those who misuse the term possibly because of a misunderstanding of the biblical "calling". "I felt led" or "God called me" have become such prevalent phrases in Christianese that even those who have genuinely sought God's will may find themselves parroting. This group may very well have a solid grasp of biblical decision making, just the wrong word association.

The third group includes those who understand the term’s misuse, but continue to use it because they have accepted that “God calls” no longer means today what it was originally intended. Language evolves, and the phrase “God calls”, though largely misused today, makes more sense (or at least easier to say) to the average Christian ear than, “I made a decision on the basis of wisdom, guided by the moral will of God, to…”

There is a fourth group, though I have yet to meet anybody, like Paul, Barnabus, or Saul, who were called through supernatural revelation (revelatory vision, audible voice, etc). However, it would be wrong to assume that God cannot choose to do so in this way today.

Whatever the case, I would not miss it if we did away with the phrase because more often than not, I feel like it is misused, at least from its original, biblical intent. Inwardly, I find it hard not to wince when I hear someone use the phrase, while outwardly, I want to just reach out and slap the person who said it. But after careful consideration, and on the basis of wisdom and in accordance with God’s moral will, I’ve decided that would probably not be a good idea!

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