Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Not For Me

The other day I was in line at a store, and someone’s cell phone started ringing. There were about 12 of us in line, and I can almost guarantee that probably all of us had a phone (I think my goldfish is the only one without a cell phone in America). Yet, I did not even look at my phone. Neither did 10 of the other people. One lady instantly started digging in her purse, frantically trying to find the phone which was buried under the three tons of receipts, pens, makeup and assorted items that women carry in their purses. Why did she look for her phone and no one else did? How did she know the call was for her, and I knew it was not for me?

I did not recognize the ringtone. I have downloaded various ringtones and assigned them to my family, then I have a unique one for general calls. My current default ringtone is “Dust In The Wind” by Kansas. Denise is “This Magic Moment”. Ben is “American Idiot”. Caleb is “Dream On” and Jacob is “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. When the phone started ringing in the store, it wasn’t any of those tunes, so I knew it wasn’t for me.

It wasn’t mine. The call was not for me. I will know it when I am called, and until then I don’t need to worry about it. As a matter of fact, I wasn’t being rude to the person calling by not answering—it wasn’t for me. I wan’t being rebellious to an authority trying to get ahold of me—the call wasn’t for me. I was not ignoring or missing something important—it was not my phone and not my call.

Not taking that call had absolutely no impact on my life whatsoever, and I am surprised that I even remember it happening. I wouldn’t if I were not about to get on a soapbox and was trying to find a way to illustrate what I think is a near heretical doctrine that has entered the church. Here it is…(drum roll with fearful anticipation)

We have taken all of the verses that require us to obey God and have made them into CALLS. The great commission is not for me, it is for those unique, highly gifted people whom God ‘CALLS’. I am not doing anything wrong by not going into the world to make disciples, because I was not CALLED to do it. I did not ignore the CALL, it wasn’t my spiritual ringtone. I will know it when God CALLS me, and that wasn’t it. I do not have to minister to, take care of, give to, or provide for the poor. The thousand or so verses in the Bible that teach this are for those special people that receive the CALL. If God CALLS me, then I will answer the CALL because I will know it is for me. I don’t have to help the orphans—I am not CALLED to do that. I am not required to help the stranger, the foreigner, the outcast, the weak, the feeble or the hurt because I am not CALLED.

I can keep virtually all my money (the average Christian gives $20/year to world missions) and spend it on bigger, better, faster, and more stuff because I am not CALLED to give sacrificially. As a matter of fact, unless God CALLS me to give anything, I will do what almost everyone else in American Christianity does and throw a tip in the plate (average Christian gives 2% to church).

I recently heard this horrible doctrine applied to the extreme. Someone was thinking about going on a short term mission trip and they were told, “Make sure that you are CALLED because if you go and you are not CALLED to go then it will hurt your spiritual life.” WHAT? Going on a mission trip is a bad thing unless you have some metaphysical CALL to go? You can go to the beach and surf, but don’t go to the child in Africa and feed them, that could hurt your soul?

This is like me reaching over and jerking the phone out of the lady’s purse and answering it I guess. She was called by her husband, and suddenly I am talking on the phone and telling him that I will run to the store and buy milk. It may not be the best thing to do.

Well, if God CALLS someone to do something, and I try to do it without being CALLED, then I am in a way a spiritual thief. I am listening to your message, opening your mail, taking your assignment. You were the one CALLED but I am the one answering. This is messed up. So, the only solution is for me to just stay comfortable, lean back, relax and use my gifts and resources to increase my comfort level. I need to be ready to answer the CALL if I hear my ringtone, but it would be at least a mistake and at most a sin to do something that I am not CALLED to do.

Only problem with this is that it is not in the Bible. By the way, notice how we assign the verses dealing with the responsibility of self-sacrifice in order to obey our Lord and reach the world to the CALLED, but we think that the verses teaching us about God’s incredible resources and blesses are for everyone. “Come to me all of you that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest”. That verse is not for the CALLED, it is for everyone. “Go therefore and make disciples” is obviously for the CALLED not for me. It is amazing that all of the verses telling me that as a child of God I should sacrifice of myself, maybe even suffer for the betterment of others or give generously are for the CALLED, but the verses telling me to receive from God and others—those verses have my ringtone assigned to them. They are for me.

Go back to the ‘CALLED’. How about this? Do a quick concordance search for that word. In almost every case in the New Testament where it is used, it is used in the ‘naming’ sense of the word, like “a man called Peter”. The only time that I can find it used in the sense that we use it is in Acts about God’s unique call for Paul, but taking this example and applying it to every other place in the Bible that requires me sacrificing myself, such as Matthew 28:19-20 is simply a poor method of reading the Bible and no one who just read the Bible would ever think it. We have to come to the verse already thinking that it does not apply to us in order to not apply it. There is no other way around it. We have to decide in advance, that this is NOT our ringtone.

There is no Biblical reason to delegate helping the poor to the CALLED. There is no Biblical reason to say that evangelistic endeavors are for the CALLED. There is no Biblical reason to assign missions to the ‘CALLED’. Does this mean that every one of us should go to the mission field? I don’t think so. I think that we can make a case for serving in a local church and reaching our local community in the Bible. If every Christian left every church, there would be no church anywhere. However, you CANNOT allocate participating in missions, in outreach, in evangelism, in giving, in discipleship, in community or in the meeting the needs of the poor to the CALLED. You can say that you are fulfilling these responsibilities by doing ______ until God leads you to do something else. But not doing anything because it was not your ringtone that went off—as I said at the beginning that is near heresy.

I think this is the most ‘prophetic’ blog that I have written, but I am passionate about it. All of us have the responsibility given by God to minister out of our resources to the world. If we are not doing it, it is not because we were not CALLED….

It is because we are in SIN.

Nuff said on this,



Denise said...

I am 'called' to tell you that I forgive you, Prophet, for stealing my idea, my terminology, and my future article. Great post, btw. You did a much better job of communicating it than I would've anyway. :>) I totally agree (of course since as I said it was ME who brought it all up) that we have relegated to a 'calling' so many things that are really just matters of living lives of sacrifice, caring for the poor, the widows, the orphans, discipling, evangelizing, and the list goes on.

Stumbler said...

WOW.... very powerful Joe.

Sometimes you see a need and think "Why am I not doing anything about this?" It's why we have a conscience.... why the Spirit prays/intercedes for us in words too deep for us to understand.

If there's a need and you can deal with it.... do it. When we get to heaven we can ask Jesus "When did we see you hungry and feed you....?" It's those spontaneous actions, as well as the more "called"/organised ones, that are likely to be those times.

(Ben... "American Idiot" by Greenday? Great album. :-)

davewave0 said...

Dude!!! So good! Thank you. We need to be praying people wake up to this reality. I need to pray that I wake up to this reality on a daily basis.
Thanks for the reminder.
God's so Good! I love it.

Anonymous said...

I really needed your post on this! Thanks.

EG said...

This was so good! Im really looking forward to going into the missions field in the near future. And this blog was that extra boost I needed.

Laura Virginia said...

Wow, awesome post, Mr. Holman! This is a truth that so many of us need to hear. Thanks for a convicting but also really exciting reminder!

Breana said...

Amen to the amen to the men's of a-ville.