Dixon at so indie it’s embarrassing was the object of some impromptu evangelism when a deal he made online to sell his bass cabinet (I haven’t a clue what that is, but since he is talking about music equipment I assume this doesn’t keep fish) went south (A Craigslist Sharing Violation). The guy that had agreed to buy it backed out because ‘God has shown [him] that I’m a materialist and love the things of the world.’ He then offers to talk to Dixon about Jesus and in the meant encourages Dixon to read the second chapter of Ephesians (I wonder why Ephesians 2?) Dixon applauds this guy’s attempt to overcome, but I am assuming that Dixon will decline the offer for spiritual insight from the gentleman.
Rather than take this opportunity to lash out at the guy for backing out and then blaming God (like I would have likely done), Dixon uses this as an opportunity for self-reflection. He remembers about the times when he has used the excuse ‘God told me’ to let him off the hook of all sorts of things. I don’t know if I have ever used that particular excuse, more out of a low self esteem that believes God talks to holier people than me. I have used the ‘spiritual cousin’ of this phrase: ‘I’ll pray about it’. Like the ‘God told me excuse’, this one lets me off the hook, too. Or at least allowed me to get the person off my back. When I worked for the bank, my boss wanted me to take a job that I didn’t want to do (I hadn’t made the decision to follow the call to ministry, but I was already looking to get out of the bank). My friend John told me to tell him, ‘I’ll pray about it.’ Not because of any intent to do so, but could my boss keep pushing me for an answer if I told him I was praying about it!
I have also used the ‘Pray about it’ excuse as a minister, probably as a guilt trip. If I need someone to be a steward or committee member or whatever and the person didn’t want to tell me ‘no’ right up front, I would say, ‘Why don’t you pray about it?’ Come to think about it, I don’t know if that’s ever worked… But, it likely did at least give the tinge of guilt needed. In both of these cases, like the ‘God told me’, I have used these as a spiritual weapon to get myself off the hook and ultimately get my own way – or at least make the other person feel bad when I haven’t.
In his post, Dixon wants to emphasise that God does talk to us and wants to be in on our decisions, even about bass cabinets. He wonders if there is a proper place and time to be open about it with someone. He ends with his ‘editorial’:
So, if you come from an expression of Christianity where this sort thing happens put an end to it by not doing it anymore. If you’re prone to over commit yourself don’t try to wiggle out of a double-booked appointment by explaining that that don’t feel called to it anymore. In the name of Jesus let’s both take our lumps and recognize that our personal spiritual crisis isn’t always appropriate for sharing. Let’s not give unhelpful content to something as special and marvelous as God’s participation in the life of people by using it to excuse our own shortcomings.
Dixon’s right on this. This isn’t an attempt to hide our faith or not sound like ‘Jesus freak’ who hears God speak to us. The confession like the one used by the guy Dixon encountered, my own statements about my prayer life, or my encouraging others to pray (with the intent that they come to the same idea as myself) are really (or at least should be) invitations for the other to walk alongside me on a journey with Jesus. The image here for such an open discussion is Emmaus, and not Isaiah. We are not pronouncing judgment for another to hear (which, granted, has its proper place), but opening up a place where we feel God is speaking to us. In this way, as in the case of the man and woman (?) on the Emmaus road, Jesus walks alongside of us to shed new light. These discussions are even more important as Paul tells us that we see as in a mirror dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12). I believe the risen Jesus still comes amongst us, but we often hear better in the company of others. Rather than looking for a way to take the blame off of ourselves, guilt trip another, or even just look for a way to get another to back off, let’s look for those friends who will journey with us. In all other cases, let’s follow Jesus in letting our ‘yes be yes’ and our ‘no be no’ (Matthew 5.37).
Oh, and if you know what a bass cabinet is and need one, Dixon will gladly take orders.