A lot of what I’ve been thinking recently is stuff about calling. This post is in response to a friend’s blog. That’s them in the spotlight, losing their religion.
We Pentecostals somehow have developed a “scale” to judge our Christian life.
- Are you saved? Check.
- Been Baptized? Check.
- In the Holy Spirit? Check. The next step?
- Got your Calling? I swear, I had that lying around here somewhere…
I think Calling has become the fourth “step” in the Pentecostal spiritual progression. And I’m not sure if that’s either Biblical or healthy. First, it assumes everybody should be called (we’ve heard this preached about a million times. “Go ye therefore.” “Take up your cross.” “Follow me and I will make you fishers…” I can think of a zillion other scriptural references where for 15 centuries, nobody but the clergy paid attention. Suddenly, in the last 500 years (the Protestant reformation), we have become Christ’s representatives. This isn’t necessarily bad, but to judge a person’s spirituality by not having this “calling” is rather dangerous. It’s another on the list of things we do, and the toughest, in my opinion. We go looking for the calling and rather than just living our lives in happiness: we strain, and worry, and fuss, until it becomes an obsession. It’s as if we’re somehow less sanctified if we don’t clear the hurdle of step four.
Much has been said at the Bethany University alumni Facebook page recently about this. The idea we changed the name of Bethany Bible College to Bethany College, and then Bethany University, is not palatable for some. In a way, it constrains the meaning of “calling” – to those who work in, for, or with, the Bible, and nothing else. We’re not called if we’re a politician, or a waitress, or a video store clerk, or–God forbid–a librarian. There are lists floating around in the New Testament: Teacher, Preacher, Missionary, Prophet, Evangelist: I’m not remembering them all. Suffice it to say, that these have become the apex of being “good” Christians, and the nadir of good Christians just being.
Quick aside–how many college-age Pentecostals have been dumped by a girlfriend or boyfriend who was “called to the mission field” suddenly, during the night, after we got a bit too sexually close for comfort the evening before? “I was called last night, to be a missionary to Uganda–and never put your hand on my skin anymore.” But I’m digressing.
I don’t know the answers. And I’m not denying that anyone has had a calling on our life. I am concerned that we put so much weight on it as Christians, and the idea that without this event, we’re somehow “lesser” on the scale of “the sanctified”. The idea is very unhealthy to the spirituality in general, and to the people who practice religion in specific.
Christianity is in danger of becoming a purely experienced religion. If we don’t feel it, it’s not worth its weight anymore. Christians shouldn’t be strictly testing for the feel-good moments. We can’t apply milestones to our spirituality. The spiritual pain is similar to waiting for that miraculous healing that never comes. We can’t pin our hopes to a moment.
That said, I was called last night to be a prophet. And never put your hand on my skin anymore. Or, barring this, at least wash the saltwater taffy from your fingers first.