Martha mentioned a quote by Kierkegaard yesterday, and it cast new light for me on what it means to be a disciple. Kierkegaard said, “The consciousness of one’s eternal responsibility to be an individual is the one thing needful.” I cannot claim to have done more than just skim the surface of what that means, but what I have seen astonishes me.
Last week, I specifically chose not to compare (for the purpose of judging) my walk with that of others. I am realizing that when I made that choice, I really had no idea what I was choosing. I thought that I’d simply stop condemning myself outside of the purview of the Holy Spirit. After all, I don’t have the right to do that, and it’s a vile act of pride. But it’s more than that.
It is my responsibility to be an individual with my own individual relationship with God—and I’m finally getting a sense of what that means in my daily life.
The life of Jesus Christ is the unifying element in any group of believers, and where Christ is actual Head and ultimate Authority, there is unity. BUT! Unity is NOT uniformity. When I look at other people and say, “I should be doing that,” I am not just judging myself (and them). I am actively shirking my responsibility to be an individual. I’m also trying to force my personal relationship with God into someone else’s mold. If I don’t have a relationship with God as an individual, then my whole life is a lie and a farce.
The calling on my life is not the same as yours. Period. It doesn’t matter if the sole calling of my life is to be a mother and the same goes for you—we are unique individuals, uniquely created, and so will our callings be. In a recent podcast, I was thinking aloud about the pull to sameness in most churches, but “sameness” wasn’t quite it. I now see that the pull, the temptation, is to irresponsibility.
It is irresponsible to either allow or to demand another person do the work of hearing God’s will for me. I am going to answer to God for every choice I make, and my individuality is dependent upon those choices. Who do I love? What do I love? Who do I listen to? Where do I turn when I’m in doubt? How do I choose to spend my time? These are just a few of the questions that are answered every day by the truth of my life. To observe my daily life is to obtain the honest answers to these questions, regardless of what I might tell you. Johnny Cash told the truth when he sang, “What’s done in the dark will be brought to the light!”
It’s not easy to wait on God for His will, to shut up the yapping of my own opinions and get quiet. It’s not easy to wait to hear what His calling on my life is either. It’s much easier to read a book, or hear a sermon, or talk to a friend – and then call it God’s will for me. I have great experience in following my bliss while calling it God. It’s the easiest thing in the world. But taking responsibility for the entirety of my individual life and being? Now that’s work.
The person who sins is the one who will die.
A son won’t suffer punishment for the father’s iniquity,
and a father won’t suffer punishment for the son’s iniquity.
The righteousness of the righteous person will be on him,
and the wickedness of the wicked person will be on him.
Ezekiel 18:20 HCSB
On Monday I’ll share what this irresponsibility looks like in action in my own life, and it might surprise you as much as it did me.