One of the most common objections non-abolitionists give in response to our cry that abolition is the obligation of the Church, is this:
“It’s not my calling.”
And so goes the justification for apathy, using “callings” as an excuse for inaction.
We consider our hobbies within the church to be modern day sacrifices of sorts, misapplying the verse about letting our bodies be living sacrifices.
We spend the majority of our energy and time inside the four walls of our local churches, encouraging one another in our excellent piety, burying ourselves deeper in our bible studies, potluck dinners, family movie nights, prayer meetings, and youth outings, taking comfort in our right opinions, while hiding away from the lost, the needy, the oppressed, and the hopeless. We have arranged our little “sacrifices” to be pleasing to God, thinking we know better than him, that we can somehow offer something to him that is more pleasing than obedience.
We are like Saul in I Samuel 15 who did not do as God asked, but came up with his own ideas for how best to “please” God, seeking only to please himself, really.
God rebuked him soundly: “Behold, obedience is better than sacrifice.”
Or worse yet, Cain, who responded in anger when God did not accept his offering. God told Cain: “Sin is crouching at your door.” But Cain murdered his brother in his anger.
In Amos 5, God’s words to Saul are echoed:
“I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them;
and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them.
Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
So what does God call for? Does he ask us for sacrifices? Or for justice?
“But Lord! My calling is to translate the sermon for the deaf!”
He says: “Establish Justice!”
“But Lord! My calling is to be on the hospitality committee!”
“But Lord! My calling is to play the guitar in the praise and worship service!”
“But Lord! My calling is to work in the church nursery!”
“But Lord! My calling is to send out cards to encourage people!”
These things are not bad, in and of themselves, and can indeed be used for God’s glory, but is it for his honor and glory, when they are used as an excuse to exempt ourselves from “the weightier matters of the law”? (Matt 23:23)
We have tithed our time, talent, and money for our own enjoyment and religious fulfillment and have neglected “justice and mercy and faithfulness.”
When we are faced with our unborn neighbor being killed, we’ve somehow misplaced it into the “calling” category, as if it is a talent one possesses, to stand in the gap for the weakest among us, as they are about to be slaughtered. We’ve told ourselves, and one another, that establishing justice and mercy, loving our oppressed neighbor is “a calling” when in fact, scripture tells us it is a command.
Christ himself tells us this! When asked what the greatest commandment is, he replies:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
In equating this obedience with “talents” when it is in reality a matter of loving God, and loving our neighbor who is created in his image, we are not establishing justice for the widow and orphan. We are abandoning it.
“And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
God has indeed, REQUIRED this of us. He has told us all throughout scripture that we are to defend the poor, the widow, the orphan, the oppressed. That THIS is pure and undefiled religion.
He uses no such language as: “But only if you feel called…” or “If you have the talent for it.”
He commands it, without exception.
And yet, we have, in our desire to give God our “sacrifices,” tripped over ourselves running past our beaten and bloodied neighbor, and murdering him by our inaction, saying in anger to those who would call us to action: “That’s not my calling!”
All while we insist, like Saul, that we know better than God, in regards to our offerings to him.
We disobediently offer that which we enjoy, and which we find convenient, while justifying ourselves by saying that somehow these disobedient offerings relieve us of our duty to obey Christ’s commands, and love our neighbor.
But as God told Saul in I Samuel 15:
“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.”
Instead of using our offerings in the ways which we devise, let us use our talents, our skills, our abilities in service to Christ’s commands! Let us not commit the age old sin of idolatry, presuming to know God’s desires, while ignoring his commands.
Let us use our passion for children, our ability to communicate, our love for technology, our passion for healing, or whatever gifts we have been given, to love the fatherless, the oppressed, to care for “the least of these.”
Let us not neglect the weightier matters of the law, faithfulness, justice, mercy. But let us use our talents in service to Christ, to establish justice.
We are not “called” to peacefully co-exist with our national evil of abortion, while singing religious songs and attending religious services, and seeking our own personal piety, covering our homes and hearts with scripture, living out our own private faith, and sidestepping carefully any personal involvement with evil, while ignoring our neighbor who is created in God’s image being murdered down the street.
We are here to proclaim the Gospel, to make disciples, because it is the GOSPEL that is the power to all who believe!
It is not our vote, our checkbook, or our pocket change dumped into a baby bottle, that will establish justice for our oppressed and weakest neighbors.
It is the GOSPEL.
Christ did not tell us: “Take up your positive and uplifting message and follow me, please?”
He said: “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.”
We live in a time, an age, a nation, where our culture has called good, evil, and evil, good. Where we turn our back on our weakest neighbors.
We are not commanded to be silently and privately faithful in the face of this, but rather to proclaim Christ to every creature. We are told that this Prince of Peace will establish justice, and righteousness.
He tells us: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
We are not only to think rightly, but to DO rightly.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.”
(Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV)
The Gospel makes captives free, it renews, transforms, and changes EVERYTHING. It is not the catalyst for inward holiness only, a secret to be kept close to our bosom, that impacts the world around us only by request.
Rather it is a powerful all encompassing truth that shakes nations, that demands “No King but Christ!” Like the apostles in Acts 17, we will indeed “turn the world upside down” when we proclaim Christ, and of the increase of his government and of peace, there will be no end.
Just as Christ took up his cross, willingly obedient to the cup he must drink, laying down his life for us, so we ought to take up our cross, obeying his commands, loving our neighbor, and doing what is difficult, to accomplish that which is urgent, establishing justice for our unborn neighbors, who are being slaughtered in the shadow of our steeples.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 ESV)
We are not redeemed for ourselves alone.
Christ has already paid the debt, and made the sacrifice, so that we may be obedient by his power.