When believers get serious about walking in the Spirit and following the Lord’s call for their life, they face one of the most dangerous places of their life. That place is not in obeying the Lord, but in how to communicate with those who are called differently or in another direction. We all want freedom and encouragement from others to follow the Holy Spirit’s leadership to us, but it is easy to demean or put down others not called to the same work. We must learn the principle of freedom to you…freedom from you!
If we want others to give us the liberty to respond to the call of Christ upon our life, we must give them the same liberty. If we do not, we will become legalistically assertive with our ‘vision’ and seek to impose it as a standard for all. Our communication will become coercive and over-authoritarian, and fail to display the liberty Christ has given to every believer.
If someone has a call to obey the Lord to do a particular ministry, and it does not violate the truth or standard of Scriptures, then praise the Lord. It does not matter if we agree with the how, when or whats of their calling, that is between them and the Lord. We must grant them this freedom and pray for them as they seek to obey their call with honest hearts and commitment. Every genuine believer is the Lord’s servant, not man’s.
It is dangerous for believers to lift their call above the call given to others, especially when others have a different thrust to their call. We must be mature enough to respect and give grace for others to walk in the light of their knowledge of God without judging them based upon our level of understanding. We cannot expect others to give us the freedom to fulfill our call if we are not willing and joyful in giving others the same freedom.
I’ve seen many fall into this trap, and I have fallen into it in my early years of ministry. It is a dangerous form of silent control and will make us judgmental. This attitude seeks to sneak into our heart when others are called to a different field or different ministry in a different way. In a local church it will usually result in some form of church split, and reveal itself with the ‘casting of stones’ toward those who may have moved on to do things differently. Or those who move on will cast the stones toward those who stayed to do things another way. Either way, stones will fly and it is ungodly. We must learn that instead of casting stones, we need to take the freedom given to us and offer it to others.
Paul and Peter ministered to two different groups of people. (Gal. 2;8-9) Both were used by God. Barnabas and Paul disagreed on some methods of discipleship and training, even to the point of forcing them to separate from doing ministry together. (Acts 15:36-41) Both were used by God. In fact, there is great evidence that both were right in light of their own gifts! (another blog post perhaps)
I remember reading years ago from Francis Schaeffer about how when a large group of ministers left a branch of the Presbyterian Church back in the 1930s, they went with flags waving and speaking harshly about the others who saw things differently. He was sharing about how it was a mistake. Hind sight is always 20/20, and words shared in the heat of disagreement can create great divides and do much harm. May the Lord grant us 20/20 vision up front in order to avoid these mistakes with brothers and sisters who see and are called to do things differently. Let us open our hands and release any stones we may have picked up toward those who are different. They are our brothers and sisters, and the harvest field needs them.
Each believer is called to follow the Lamb. Let us not waste time judging or criticizing them because their path is different than ours. They are the Lord’s servants, and He alone will have the final say. The ministry needs workers, and not all the laborers will look the same or work the harvest field the same way you or I may do it. It is amazing how much grace will flood our hearts when we allow and encourage each laborer to be faithful to their own call.
Let us celebrate our freedom to obey the Lord. Let us also be careful to offer this same freedom to others!