Friday, January 28, 2011

Face Punch Word of the Week #47

I'm working with a rather liberal definition of week here.  Also, I don't feel like keeping an accurate record of the number of posts in this series.  So get over it.

Face Punch Word of the Week #47:

CALLED (verb)

As in: "I feel in my heart that God has called me to serve His Church."

As a called and ordained servant of the Word, I believe in the divine call.  I am certain that God has called me to be a pastor.  However, the reason I'm certain that God has called me to be a pastor is because God instituted an actual office and calls actual men into that actual office by calling them to do actual things.  Those things being this.  And this.  And this.  And since an actual congregation (and a new one, hence my posting drought during the move) has asked me, according to God's Word, to do those actual things in her presence, I know that God has called me to be a pastor.  So, in a nutshell, my call to be a pastor is based entirely on God's Word and institution and not at all on what I feel in my heart.

But surely you must also feel this call in your heart, some might think.  If God has really, truly called you, shouldn't you have to feel it, even a little bit?

And to this I respond, "No, pietistic and slightly enthusiastic hypothetical person!  In fact, if God has really, truly called me, it's most likely that I will feel the opposite of called.  After all, that's what happens pretty much every time God calls someone in the Bible.

You see, when God called Moses, Moses felt that God was not calling him.  When God called Isaiah, Isaiah felt that God was not calling him.  When God called Jeremiah, Jeremiah felt that God was not calling him.  When God called Jonah, Jonah showed God how much he felt that He was not calling him by running away.  Even Jesus didn't feel particularly great about being crucified, per God's calling.  And this was a smart system to set up on God's part.  Because when You call men to do things that they don't really want to do, it shows that Your Word, and not their heart, is the thing at work.  And, likewise, when those men side with the Word of God over the feelings of their hearts, this shows why they actually are worthy of being called by God in the first place.

And so, when people use the term "calling" today in a way that is completely divorced from any real, actual, verifiable call of God and when they strangely really, really, really want to do the things that God has supposedly called them to do, this reveals that they are in need of a good face punch because they have sided with the feelings of their hearts over the Word of God.

So when the Word of God tells a man that he has been called to endure scorn and rejection and hatred for preaching the Gospel, and he preaches a false gospel that earns him praise and adulation and lots and lots of dollars instead, he does this because he has rejected the true calling of God that says "suffer" in favor of the false calling of his heart that says "I want a yacht."  Likewise, when the Word of God tells a woman that she may not be a pastor, and she pretends to be one anyway, she does this because she chose the calling she felt in her heart over the calling God told her He has not given her.

So whenever people claim that God is calling them to do something that they are excited about doing and when they seek to substantiate that call based upon their own feelings, what they are actually doing is something quite simple.  They are taking the name of God in vain.  They're using the name of God to make their own desires seem holier.  They're trying to sanctify their own will by covering it in the will of God.  And this is always a bad thing to do, even if the things you will and desire are seemingly pure.  Because, as God makes pretty clear, dressing up words He hasn't spoken as His own is a very bad thing, worthy of His own version of a punch in the face.  Which is way worse than any face punches I can dish out.  And not just because I have weak, girl arms.

My name is Pastor Hans Fiene.  Thanks for reading.


Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I feel you are a good theologian =o)

Pastor Fiene said...

Crap, that must mean I'm not.

Pr. Brian Stoffregen said...

Moses knew God had called him. How could he miss the burning bush? But he wanted to get out of the call by making excuses about his abilities. (Exodus 3:1-4:17)

Isaiah knew God called him. How could he miss the vision of the LORD being high and lifted up on a throne with seraphs above him? But he wanted to get out of the call by making excuses about his sinfulness. He is forgiven, and he volunteers: "Here am I, send me." (Isaiah 6:1-8)

Jeremiah knew God called him, but he complains that he can't speak well and he's too young. He is assured that God will be with him and proclaims the Word of the Lord. (Jeremiah 1:4-19)

Jonah knew God had called him. More than that, he was afraid that his prophesying would work and his enemies would repent and God would not destroy those whom Jonah wanted destroyed. He didn't want the Ninevites saved; that's why he says he ran away.

I've heard from women pastors and they have to put up with a lot more scorn and rejection and hatred for preaching the gospel than men. So, by your logic, that must be a sign that they are truly called by God; that God has given them a message for the world, e.g., the women at the tomb, who were called by God through the angel, and whose message of the resurrection was rejected at first (see Luke 24:1-11)

Pastor Fiene said...

You're pretty much making my point for me, Brian. The prophets felt in their hearts that God wasn't calling them. But they trusted in His external Word over the testimony of the hearts. Jonah did the opposite and chose the call of his heart over the call of God when he fled.

That's also what every woman who claims to be a pastor does when the Word of God makes clear that God does not call any woman into the pastoral office and they try to hold the office anyway. Of course, God certainly does call them as Christians to share the Resurrection promise with the world, as the women at the tomb did. But that's not the same thing as being a pastor.

Anonymous said...

So we should all hate our jobs then? Since apparently the only plausible response to a call from God is to reject it, and then eventually grudgingly give in? Why doesn't God call us to things that make sense in light of the gifts and talents and passions he's given us? I love teaching. Love, love, love it. I love every part. I love deciding what I'm going to teach, I love picking materials and curriculum, I love writing lesson plans, I love explaining incredibly awesome things to my students. I love working through really tough stuff with them. I love when they ask good questions - or realize they've asked a dumb question. I love when they answer their own questions - or each other's. I love when I know they've actually learned something valuable that is going to stick with them. I love being frustrated that they're not learning what I want them to, and seeing that as a challenge to myself to do a better job of communicating, or classroom management.

But I must not be called to teaching then, because if I was, I would hate every second of it.

This is not the God I know.

Pastor Fiene said...


The "call" I'm speaking of here is a call into the pastoral office. But the point remains for each and every vocation...if ever being faithful to God in our vocations comes into conflict with being faithful to our hearts, we ought to side with God's word.

Nonetheless, I am sure that you are using your God given talents in a very God pleasing way. And I'm certainly glad to hear that you love your job. I do too. Most of the time:-)

gestalttheology said...

Thanks for this post (and for your recent videos). I'm curious though: yes, you should believe in your call given that an actual congregation has called you to be their pastor; however, were you in any sense called before this point? How did you come to be a pastor or a seminarian? Did a congregation call you to do this? Or did you have some sort of intuition, or feeling, or imagination, or affirmation that you'd do well to be a pastor?
Again, thanks.