The Neglect of Calling and Neurotic Faith

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I can’t remember hearing much about calling growing up. The older I have gotten the more I have realized our need to have a biblical understanding of calling. It has been our neglect of this principles in Churches of Christ that has been a part of our own insecurity of our salvation.

I don’t have time to go into it in this post but we have always been secure in our orthodoxy but insecure in our orthopraxy. To put that simply, in theory our theology is presented as the highest level of security (we are quite certain we are right) but in practice we have a hard time feeling secure in our salvation because our theology puts too much weight on ourselves and not enough on God. So we know we are right in our doctrine but we aren’t sure we are good with God. Maybe our consciences are letting us in on a biblical truth, maybe it is the Spirit – it was never about salvation via getting it all right in the first place. Is “neurotic faith” an oxymoron? It might just be.

When you pair that with a limited view of the work of the Spirit apart from the Word you have an even bigger issue that has been producing Christians who aren’t sure they are Christians. Let that sink in for a moment. What makes matters worse is that this is in direct contradiction to the scriptures we believe we have the right opinions on because the Bible itself instructs us to not think like we think. Consider these verses,

“Make every effort to make your calling and election sure” – 2 Peter 1:10

We neither thought we had a calling or any sort of election much less were we sure about it. Peter instructs us to be sure about things we aren’t sure about. That should open our eyes wide! Or consider these words,

“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.” – Hebrews 3:1

Or how about this,

” As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” – Ephesians 4:1

We have received a calling and this isn’t for being an apostle or a prophet but just by being a Christian.  If you are a Christian you have been called by God. You have a calling.

It is time we embrace this perfectly good biblical teaching. When we do so we can finally fulfill other biblical instructions like 1 John 5:11-13,

“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

We have life because God has given it not because we checked all the boxes. God, therefore, wants us to know we have eternal life! This shouldn’t be so anxiety producing, but it is…not because we have all our Bible views right but because we have some of them wrong. It becomes anxiety producing when we ignore or twist what the Bible says rather than embrace what the Bible says, especially in terms of calling, grace and the work of Christ for us.

Are you sure about your calling? Do you feel like you belong in the family of God? Do you know that God accepts you and loves you and wants you? He does. If you are in Christ you have been called and although we are instructed to live out our calling in a worthy way in Ephesians 4:1 we also learn in 1 Thess 1:11 that ultimately it is God himself who makes us worthy for our calling. That is some real assurance!

When Christians live in light of a sense of divine calling they will live more in line with what life in Christ is all about. There is no better place to be!

2 Responses

  1. I think when you mention calling and elect you run the risk of getting close to the terms used by Calvinism. This is like ring-fencing the Torah laws with 6 or 8 individual rules so that one cannot even get close to violating the Law. I could see where even the terms calling and elect when mentioned from a cofC pulpit would stoke fear since there is so little understanding of them. Perhaps the publication editors/bishops who set the cofC on course felt that if people thought their salvation were secure then they would get lazy or not toe the line. Also, when the “Texas tradition” (termed by John Mark Hicks) won the fight, the victor got to set the policies. Additionally, the cofC had to be different from other Christian groups often to the point of being the opposite, whether that was being sure of their calling or having stained glass.

  2. Unfortunately, when I hear the words “called” or “calling” it is used by the preacher to refer to himself being called to preach. In this way the preacher sets himself apart from the crowd in this work, because obviously they weren’t called.
    In reality all have received the same call towards the same goal, even though we might differ in our actions.
    In the coC we believe in grace, but we believe in deserved grace, meaning that we deserve the grace that God gives, but not others, because they don’t do what God wants, no matter how much they want God. It doesn’t matter what they do or don’t do, it only matters what we do or don’t do. They don’t sacrifice the right way, even though they might show mercy and love.
    We haven’t leaned that like all of the churches in the scriptures, we are not worthy, individually or as a group and that others are not worthy on the same level.
    But we, like others, who answer the call and keep answering the call, by hanging on the line, are linked to the one who continually desires us.
    Baptism isn’t about water, it’s about the answer to the call.
    Faith is about keeping the line open.

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