It seems that every group of people with a specific area of interest develop their own sort of language. They seem to be using words we know but not in a way we understand. We’ve all been to the doctor and had him toss out a term like “diet”… Explaining we aren’t “on a diet” just muddies the water more. He’s really just wanting to know what we’ve been eating. So why doesn’t he say so?
Churches are a great place for this to occur. We talk about freewill, saving souls, lifting people up, gifts and calling. It can be pretty bewildering and a bit scary. We aren’t putting souls in a jar, we don’t have any weight-lifting contests, we aren’t handing out presents with pretty bows and we frown at people using their phones.
Here’s what we are trying to say, in plain English (I hope). When we say “save” or “saved” we are talking about accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior; about recognizing Him as God’s Son; about admitting that we are spiritually broken and need Him to straighten us out.
The simple definition of “freewill” is choice. God created us so that we can think and choose for ourselves. We can make good choices and obtain good consequences. If we make bad choices in our life, we get to live with those consequences too. Either way, God lets us decide what we want in our lives.
When we say “lifting people up” we mean that we are asking God to help those folks in their situation. This might mean we are praying for healing, but could also mean that we are asking for endurance and patience. We may be asking for wisdom and insight, but the bottom line is that we are asking God to focus His attention on that person or family.
God’s “gifts” to us are discussed in 1 Corinthians 12. We believe that the Holy Spirit gives every person gifts that we can nurture and use to help others. In the world, people talk about their potential or talent. There are people who are gifted in every area of life so that humankind can thrive and support one another. People who are “saved” use these “gifts” to help others in such a way that God receives the glory, credit and praise for every result. Finally, we talk “calling” or “being called.” In some churches this only applies to the pastor, as in “being called by God to preach.” We believe that God “calls” each of us to fulfill His will. We believe that He has given us our “gifts” so that when He calls us we will have all the tools we need to serve in whatever way He asks. This might mean we do something as humble as emptying the trash and sweeping the floor. It might mean we cook meals for those who can’t. Sometimes it means being a taxi. For others it means teaching. I hope you’re getting the idea.