The Call of the Spirit and the Call of Love

Pentecost 25 Monday

Exodus 3:1

“Moses was shepherding the sheep of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest in Midian.”

Now, these two types of calls are done as follows: There is one that takes place by God himself. If there is someone who relies on it, do not receive him unless he does signs. And do not believe him, unless he does shows that he is called by the Holy Spirit. For there are many such sneaks and corner preachers who say that they are called by God. But they point to God or other people who called them. In fact, they are well able to sneak around behind the people and keep on talking until they are chosen and called; the people are soon talked into it. Yet they are thieves, murderers, and wolves, John 10:1. What they lack can be determined by a question: “If you are sent by the Holy Spirit, show us the signs. If you
boast of being called by people, show and prove that, as it is proper and according to Holy Scripture. For God did not even want to send the apostles into the world unless they had first been confirmed by signs.” The other call, the one that takes place by people, is confirmed beforehand by God’s command on Mt. Sinai, Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 6:5: “Love God, and love the neighbor as yourself.” If this commandment urges you, you do not need a sign because God has commanded it beforehand; and I must do it. Now, the people take this commandment and confront me with it; this commandment has been confirmed for me by Moses and God in heaven if I follow it. Thus, I preach without signs, but the call is still God’s; for it flows from the commandment of love and is required by God…And this is my boast and confidence that I know that I do the right thing and have been called to do it by the commandment of love. This is my boast. I do not boast of my spirit. For on this basis I could not carry out a fraction of my office, even if I knew that I should convert the whole world. Rather, what matters is God’s Word and commandment. And when things are done according to God’s Word, they are done right. Yet when things are done according to my spirit, everything I undertake quickly crashes and burns. Thus, people urge me to do it by force; and I am forced to preach, although I would have like to stay outside of the preaching office…This is the call into a public office where there are Christians. However, if you came into a multitude where there are no Christians, one should follow the example of the apostles and not wait for such call by means of people. For the preaching office does not exist there. A Christian may say there: “There are no other Christians here; I will preach and instruct them concerning Christianity. If a multitude of Christians resulted from this, and they chose and called me to be their bishop, I would have a call.

St. Louis ed., 3:722-723.

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