Why I am not answering "The Call"
I sent this out to some in my church today, and I thought you might benefit as well. Or, at least I would benefit from telling you.
Father Thomas here. I’m writing to you all today because I want to share my thoughts about the upcoming “The Call Nashville.” The reason I am addressing you all, as a group, is that you are faithful companions of mine in prayer for our congregation, and for our nation. Also, I know that many of you have been praying for The Call, and, more importantly, for the hope of revival and repentance that many feel it represents.
During my retreat in New Mexico a couple of weeks ago, I was reading Brennan Manning’s little book “A Glimpse of Jesus.” In that book, he quotes Adrian van Kaam and his 1978 book “Looking for Jesus.” This quote struck me, and I was moved in that moment that I should send this quotation along to you, and use it as a way to speak about myself and my heart with you.
Here is the quote: “To be open to the Way, the Truth, and the Life, we should find the unique task and expression of divine love Jesus wants in our lives. . . There are many tempting possibilities to care in ways that are at odds with the way Christ wants to express care in us. We may try to live a style of love we are not called to. We may want to concretize our care for people in a task or moment not attuned to our individual nature. We may do so to please others because we crave to be liked. Or we may want to belong to a popular social or apostolic movement. We join in blindly in spite of the fact that their particular manifestation of Christ’s love is not necessarily ours.”
In my years in ministry, I have recognized in myself the temptation to follow Christ in ways that are at odds with the way Christ has made, and is making, me. Fellow believers come to me with an experience, a speaker, a song, a meeting, a movement, etc., something they feel is important and life-changing. Sometimes, my spirit witnesses to their enthusiasm, and I am moved to join in. Other times, I do not witness to what they are saying. In that moment, though, I am sometimes tempted to join with them simply because I love them and hope that they will love me back. I feel that if I participate in their “popular social or apostolic movement,” then I will be acceptable, I will not hurt their feelings, and I will be on the side of Christ. It has taken me many years to come to the place where I can even begin to say “no” to things that, for others, are such an obvious and sure “yes.”
One example of this temptation comes to me in the midst of the discussion of “The Call Nashville.” I know many, many beloved Christians who are excited and empowered by this coming event. And, in many ways, why not? An event that is about fasting and repentance, an event that is about prayer and self-dedication, an event that is about revival. It seems almost obvious that all Christians would want to be part of that.
For myself, I am very interested in fasting, repentance, prayer, and revival. They are important to me. I pray that the Spirit of God would come upon us and birth this among us. However, my spirit does not witness to “The Call.” I have prayed about it many times, and I have asked God to give me peace and excitement about this event. But, to be completely honest, I do not have this peace.
Also, to be honest, I wish I did. I sincerely wish that my heart were moved by this opportunity. I wish I could join in the great throng which I see around me, I wish I could be excited. Because, then I would be able to be part of this movement. And I would be able to join in the excitement of those around me. I am even tempted to put aside my internal conflict and join in anyway. After all, who am I to not support a day of fasting and repentance?
But, I do not feel it is true to who I am. There is something about the Call which I do not resonate with. Perhaps it is the leadership that I do not entirely trust. Perhaps it is the word from Lou Engle, the basis of this event, which I do not spiritually witness to. In fact, I have numerous difficulties with his “word” which lead me to believe it is not fully from the Lord. Perhaps it is something about me, I don’t fully know. What I do know is that if I were to tell you I support “The Call,” I would not be honest with you.
So, am I opposed to The Call? No, I am not interested in attacking it. By not participating, do I feel like I might miss something? I don’t feel that, but I recognize I might miss something important. I am hopeful that God will be merciful to me, and that if he is sparking a great revival in our nation, he might include me anyway. I also continue to pray that if I am wrong, God would make that very clear to me.
All that said, I can not in good conscience support this event. I can not promote it or encourage others to attend. If you, my companions, wish to participate, I bless you. I fully accept that I could be completely wrong. In fact, I pray that I am. I pray that the Lord does something amazing, and I will look back and say “God was there, and I missed Him.” And, like I said, I believe he will be merciful to me if that is the case.
Thank you for taking time to read this. I pray it finds you well,
The Reverend Thomas McKenzie
June 27, 2007