Editor's Postlude: I Knew God Called Me

January 29, 2024
Two women in straw hats facing a body of water

“God has called me to do this.” The woman on the radio was emphatic in her belief that God had called her to work against LGBTQ+ rights in her local school. At the same time, our congregation was becoming an Affirming church. With a 96 percent vote in favour, we too were declaring that “God has called us” to be an oasis of inclusion in our town for LGBTQ+ people.

So, which is it? We declare that there is one God who has “called, claimed, and commissioned”* us as Christ’s disciples. So, if one God is calling, then which is it? Of course, I would say that we are right, that we are living out the radical love of Jesus, and that we have been called to this purpose by God.

I am sure that the woman on the radio also would declare that she was living the love of God to which she had been called. Imagine non-Christians experiencing the two of us declaring emphatically that we both feel called by God to two opposite positions. They might think, “Anyone can say they are called by God and then do whatever they want. It’s not God calling. They are deluding themselves.”

The Judeo-Christian tradition is formed around the belief that God calls. God called Abram and Sarai to travel to a new home and give birth to a new nation and faith. God called Moses through a burning bush and commissioned him to free the Hebrew people from enslavement in Egypt. God called Deborah to be a judge of her people and called Esther to save her people from genocide. Jesus called 12 disciples to join him. Paul, on the road to Damascus, was called to become a follower of Jesus. Lydia was called to start a house church. Phoebe was called to be an apostle. Call is central to the Judeo-Christian tradition.

So how do we discern that the call we are experiencing is from God? The woman on the radio and I might offer very similar criteria for discerning a holy calling. We experienced the call of God through a spiritual experience. In studying scripture, we were convinced that this action was a necessity. We prayed about it and received further affirmation. We invited our community of faith to help us discern and listened to their wisdom, stories, and insights, which confirmed the call we experienced. We felt a deep sense of joy and love enfolding us as we enacted the call.

So, has God called her or has God called me? Which one of us is right? Or are atheists and agnostics right to believe that it is all made up in our own minds, that we are only justifying what we have determined we want to do by declaring that it is a divine calling?

Let me state clearly that I do believe that God calls and commissions us to certain purposes in the world. I believe that the divine Spirit nudges, cajoles, and guides us in living out the radical love of Jesus.

So, there is one more criterion that I would add to the list for discerning a call. When someone asks how to determine if a call is from God, I always add, “God would never ask you to do something that harms yourself or another person. What God asks will bring healing, hope, and compassion to your own life and to the lives of others.”

I don’t believe that the other woman’s “call from God” is offering healing and hope, but she would disagree. She might feel her actions are compassionate while what I witness in her is an angry, destructive vehemence.

So, perhaps there is one more needed criterion—humility. I passionately, fervently believe that God is calling my congregation and our denomination to be affirming and inclusive of the full spectrum of gender identity and sexual orientation. I can be bold in this belief, yet I must also live this calling with humility, knowing that there is so much I still need to learn from God and from others in the LGBTQIA+ and Two-Spirit community and beyond.

God calls and I respond with bold humility. May grace abound!

Susan Lukey, Editor