When Christians today compare themselves with an Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Joshua, Hannah, Ruth, Esther, Huldah, Daniel, Jeremiah, Elijah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Peter, James, John, or Paul…we do not see the same magnitude and intensity of calling in the specific events of our lives on a similar grand scale as these great men and women of faith in the Bible.
Why is that?
As Abraham the biblical “father of faith” travels from the city of Haran to the Promised Land of Canaan…with each step he takes God is displacing whatever normative life Abraham would have lived in Haran according to its culture and conventions…with a life-script containing the critically new element of faith in God…a life-script Abraham would never have imagined in his wildest dreams.
And with each step Abraham takes towards Canaan and away from Haran…the non-theistic starting hypothesis that this story is human invented fiction…that God does not exist and therefore could not have spoken to Abraham…is a door of rational inquiry and thought that is closed by reason of the sheer novelty of the setting aside of human autonomous self-sovereignty…that is the through-line of the story.
The initiative here…as in every narrative story of faith in the Bible…is with God. People of faith in the Bible react to God’s enlistment of them into a scheme of events and circumstances that stretch them…in terms of a relationship with God and in self-sacrificing service to others… far beyond anything they could have invented or contrived.
If God is the initiator of the faith-program and its scope, outreach, and magnitude…what can Christians do other than surrender and yield ourselves to Christ and listen in the Spirit…to actualize a similar fulfilling and challenging calling in our own lives?
But this is the whole point that separates out and validates the divine origin of God-composed journey of faith life-scripts. They do not start with human creative imagination, invention, contrivance, or self-generated energy. The argument from scripture is that biblical narrative stories of faith are so outside of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…that they cannot be the product of human literary invention.
The response of Jesus to Peter’s question about the calling of the apostle John: “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me” (Jn. 21:22)…makes no sense in the default worldview program of conventional thinking based on self-energized good works and personality driven self-advancement. But it makes perfect sense in the worldview reality of God-composed journey of faith life-scripts in the biblical narrative stories of faith…and in our Christian callings to service today.
The big question here is…does this divinely instituted worldview choice of a journey of faith apply universally to all Spirit-born Christians today? Does its scope and magnitude reach down into the commonplace reality of “normal life” to produce something spectacular and extraordinary…yet typically unrecognized and unheralded by worldly conventional standards?
Paul addresses this very practical question of the varied magnitudes of our callings in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 when he writes: “If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him” (1Cor. 12:15-18).
“As it hath pleased him”…as it has pleased God…is the key idea here.
But the sharper-than-any-sword, cutting-edge truth here is that God-composed journeys of faith after the biblical pattern are not written for God’s benefit. They are written for us. God-composed journeys of faith are written and managed by God to lift us up and out of a journey of self into the higher ways and thoughts of God. This is the humanly inconceivable point where a journey of self and a journey of faith divide asunder.
This God-invented worldview of journeys of faith is another component of the unselfish character trait of divine love. This is why without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6)…because without releasing our faith and stepping out into our God-composed adventure of faith…it is impossible in a system having free-will choice for God to help us.
The purposeful, premeditated, intelligently designed game-plan of a journey of faith has no practical application…no possible expression…no overlap within the default worldview of self-sovereignty…which includes such things as pantheism, reincarnation, or the self-realization program of man-made good works…earning our own independent way to salvation.
One approach falls squarely within the self-sovereignty of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…the default worldview. The second approach falls within a God-composed journey of faith life-script as patterned for us in the biblical narrative stories of faith.
These are the only two options. They are binary…either one or the other. They are whole number digits…either zero or one. They are a “go or no go” decision in a manned missile launch sequence into outer space. There isn’t a third way in terms of personal sovereignty.
There are High Costs for High Callings
But before we compare ourselves unfavorably with the giants of faith in the Bible…let’s listen to what else is said by and about Paul on the subject of our callings.
In Acts chapter 22 Paul defends himself before the rioting mob of people in Jerusalem, by recounting what Ananias said to Paul in Damascus: “The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard” (Acts 22:14-15).
Would most of us choose for ourselves the challenging life-script for Paul as recorded in the book of Acts…oftentimes teetering on the edge of the precipice of life-and-death…to walk in the singularly unique program that would successfully evangelize the first-century Greco-Roman world…and inform the divinely inspired and sanctioned composition of Paul’s New Testament letters to the early churches?
Would most of us choose the program of Abraham to patiently wait for the birth of Isaac…and then to triumphantly push through the challenging test of faith on Mount Moriah…to become the “father of faith?”
Would we choose to walk in the steps of Joseph in Potiphar’s house and Pharaoh’s prison…in order to be trained to become the governor of Egypt and to set in motion the extraordinary events that would create the future nation of Israel?
Would we be willing to pay a similar price…the cost of jettisoning our worldly claims to conventional normalcy and thinking…by stepping into our God-composed adventure of faith tailored specifically and narrowly to match our created talents and abilities…come what may?
This is exactly what Jesus Christ is asking of Spirit-born Christians today…not within the worldly conventional realm of self-sovereignty…but in the second worldview realm of novel, adventurous, God-scripted journeys of faith. Picking up our cross for the sake of Jesus and the gospel (Mk. 8:34-35)…is a divine creation of God above and far outside of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…which by its very existence as an alternate viable worldview…argues for the divine origin of the Bible.
And this is what adds the distinctive Christian apologetic argument to the worldview debate over the purpose, meaning, and reality of life…that the second worldview of a journey of faith containing the cross of Christ (Lk. 22:42)…could not have come out of the default, humanistic worldview of self-sovereignty…and therefore has its origin from God.
God is not a “High-Roller”
The career that I work in is building construction. I have seen up-close several homebuilding companies go bust because the over-ambition of the owners led them to reach for too much too fast. These company owners wanted to be recognized as big-time players in the building industry…and instead of using sound business practices, a sustainable plan for steady growth, and some humility…they were caught over-extended in terms of unsold product inventory during an economic downturn…which took down their company along with all of their employees as well.
1 John 2:16-17 speaks about this character tendency found within worldly conventional normalcy and thinking: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
Jesus did not…could not…fit-in with the religious leadership in Jerusalem…because a God-composed journey of faith resides above the worldly conventionality of the lusts and the pride of life described in 1 John 2:16-17 (Mt. 9:12-13; Jn. 11:47-48).
Jesus Christ the Son of God’s first advent on earth is to be the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for the sins of the world. Doing the will of God of 1 John 2:17 perfectly…is not to conform to the worldliness that passes away. Doing the will of God is what abideth forever…and Jesus the divine Son of God completes His mission perfectly.
In the biblical narrative stories of faith…God raises up Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon Ruth, Samuel, David, Solomon, Esther and Mordecai, and Daniel…to name a few…to positions of leadership, power, responsibility, and elevated status.
But in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus we see the remarkable capacity of God to step down off His throne of glory in heaven to inhabit a life-script that is the opposite of “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” ending in a crown of thorns and the cross on Calvary Hill for our salvation.
This I believe broadens our understanding of Paul’s brilliant analogy to the foot, the hand, the ear, and the eye of 1 Corinthians 12:15-18…and the often missed 1 Corinthians 4:9.
Our callings today as Spirit-born Christians may or may not be as spectacular as the stories of some of the men and women of faith in the Bible…but God Himself set the standard for greatness in the lifescript of Jesus Christ according to the low road in terms of worldly status…the suffering servant of Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53…therein producing the greatest blessing for mankind for all eternity.