Wednesday, January 13, 2010

This Is God Calling . . .

I found this in a recent blog entry from an acquaintance of mine.  I’m not picking on this particular fellow, but he states the usual and customary case for his position very clearly and succinctly.  Here is what he said:

Have you had a burning bush experience?  Have you sensed God calling you to serve Him in some specific way? . . . now is a good time to explore God’s call .

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Have I felt God directing me to a specific task or area of service? 
  • If so, have I said yes?
  • Have I, like Moses, told God about my fears? My objections? My feelings of inadequacy?
  • What am I doing right now to answer God’s call?
  • If I’m feeling led to a new area of service, how can I verify what God wants me to do and follow it?

Here is my four step burning bush experience verification plan:

  1. Make sure God initiated it. Don’t force it.
  2. Check the Bible to make sure it’s morally right.
  3. Pray about it — for as long as it takes to be confident of His call.
  4. Get to work doing it!

If God calls you to serve Him in a specific way, do it.   Don’t let anything keep you from obeying God’s call in 2010.

If you hear God’s call, whether through a burning bush or a still small voice, say yes!

*  *  *

For many decades now I have heard this position stated and assumed to be true.  It is, in essence, this:  in addition to what God has said to us all through scripture, there are additional, individually-tailored instructions we can expect from Him from time-to-time.  These additional instructions will come via urges, inklings, and circumstances that we must carefully interpret in order to ‘here God’s call.’

I have considered it and reconsidered it in light of scripture.  In many circles it is almost considered heresy even to suggest that we question it, but I think we must.  Here are some obvious problems:

Why should we assume that a ‘burning bush experience’ is to be expected generally?  In pop theology this assumption is almost never questioned.  Notice something very important about all this.  When God ‘called’ Moses He did so through unambiguous, spoken words.  Moses did not have to wonder if it was God speaking.  The miracle of the bush that burned but was not consumed confirmed that it was God.  Moses did not have to wonder, test, or probe God’s message.  It was spoken in words that Moses understood.

The ‘God calls us today like Moses’ view is so fraught with ambiguity that it has almost nothing to do with what happened to Moses.  Note the words and phrases in the description above: sensed, felt, feeling led.  God did, very literally, ‘call’ to Moses.  But to label sensations and feelings a ‘call’ is a serious case of false advertising.

We are told to ‘pray about it’ so that we can be confident of God’s call.  This is a common caveat for this approach.  But what, exactly, can talking to God do to confirm that a feeling or sensation we might have is in fact a message from God?  And, we must ask, where in God’s word does He promise to communicate with us via sensations or feelings?

The writer urges us to ‘make sure God initiated it. Don’t force it.’  God, in His word, has never promised to initiate vague ‘calls’ to us based on feelings.  How presumptuous of us to then assume that some urge is from God and begin ‘testing’ it by means that we have devised, and in essence, imposed upon God!!!

The writer says “If I’m feeling led to a new area of service, how can I verify what God wants me to do and follow it?”  But in the end, three steps of his ‘four step burning bush experience verification plan’ do absolutely nothing to answer his question.  And, of course, God always wants us to do what is morally right.  But notice something very important here:  God has revealed to us, in human language that we can understand, exactly what is morally right and wrong.

Finally, notice what this writer does not say – and I appreciate his restraint.  He does not claim that the ‘still small voice’ of God will come in words.  This, of course, would clearly be a matter of additional revelation and that would imply all sorts of problems for any accurate view of the historic Christian faith.  (Some who advocate this view do go that far, with sometimes very weird results.  (One very interesting example of this, which I have reviewed elsewhere, is found here.)

I know the view I am questioning here is both very popular and very sincerely held by it advocates.  To some, questioning this view is almost like questioning the Christian faith.  But if you think very carefully about what scripture actually says about this matter, this popular view comes up lacking.  Don’t take it from a rank amateur like me.  Check out this thorough study of the topic:  Garry Friesen, Decision Making and The Will of God. You – and perhaps God – will be glad you did.

No comments: