Is there a difference? If God commands us to do something, or not do something, that is pretty clear. And if we disobey, we are in sin and must atone.
But what if God only calls us to do something? Technically, I guess, we have an option to refuse without really being in sin. I am pretty sure what will happen is that God will raise up someone else to do what He needs done, and we will have been guilty, not so much of a direct sin against God, but of failing to faithfully obey Him.
Wait a minute! Isn’t refusing to obey God a sin? If He commands or if He requests, shouldn’t we obey either way?
I believe the answer is that we should obey, either way, but I also believe there is a difference between commanded and called. It’s subtle, it’s a technicality, but there is a difference.
Remember that person in the bible whom God called to perform a great act and refused to do it? I’m not talking about Jonah, because he did (eventually) go to Nineveh. I’m talking about the man that God called to perform a wondrous act in His name and never did it. Do you remember reading about him?
No? That’s because he never did what God asked of him, so he never made it into the bible. Sometimes I wonder, especially after reading the book of Jonah, how many people has God called to do things that seem little at the time but, from the view of history, might have been great- but they failed to do it. Or maybe they just never got around to it. How many?
What really scares me is that I might be one of them, one day. I felt called to write my book, and I know I should do much more to sell it- if I think it is truly honoring to God and important, then I should do more than just write it. I keep telling myself next year, after I’m retired, I will have time. Am I just putting off the calling God gave me? Was it really God calling me to write it or am I just being myself: self-centered and self-important, thinking I am someone who has the right to tell others what God wants from them?
Self-evaluation is important, since it keeps us humble, but too much of it can do more harm than good. I want to keep a healthy view on myself to make sure I listen to God when He talks to me. I want to be like the people we read about in the bible, not like the ones that never made it. And I do believe that there are many who never made it. I can’t give you any definitive reason why: let’s just say from my experience with people and from a sense of human nature I feel certain there have been people God has called to do something for Him, and have been too afraid, too choked by the tares of this world, or just too stubborn to accept God’s call.
I also believe there are, and have been, many who are just the opposite- doing what they believe to be God’s calling in their life, but it is really what they want to do and they are using God as an excuse for doing it.
What about you? Do you feel you have a calling from God to do something with your life? If so, don’t over-evaluate it, don’t spend time thinking about it, but right now pray for confirmation (God is good at doing that.) Really- if you think or feel you have a calling, then go do it! Don’t think too much on it and don’t worry about how it will get done (God is good at making things happen, too)- just get started!
Abraham didn’t check out MapQuest or go to AAA for a trip ticket when God told him to leave Ur- he just left. Moses was really unsure of himself at first, but he eventually took the call and ran with it. Gideon tested that the call was really from God, and after receiving confirmation he performed his calling with a passion. We can be the same as these people- maybe not as great, maybe not as influential, maybe even just as scared (at first), but we can be like them.
I believe God has a job for everyone who calls on His name: you know, God never hesitates, He never thinks it over; if anything, He might wait until the time is perfect but God hears us when we call to Him and He is faithful to answer our prayers for help.
Don’t you think it is only right that He deserves for us to do what He asks when He calls?