A Lone Voice
Cumberland Presbyterians believe God works in and through community. For example, a person may believe they are called by God to become ordained. But before the Cumberland Presbyterian Church will ordain them, that call must be confirmed by the body—the people of God. The Constitution of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church says, “a licentiate shall be ordained only if he or she has a call to a church or to a ministry approved by the presbytery….” (6.31 Constitution). We believe the Holy Spirit makes believers aware of God’s truth when we gather in community.
Whatever we agree on is God’s will, right? No! We also “agree” to sin together. Sometimes we—individuals, congregations, even denominations—become so entrenched in sin that we don’t know there is anything else. Sometimes evil so subtly invades our lives we don’t even know we’re sinning. And it is always easier to sin when we do it in groups. We justify ourselves and our actions by thinking “Well, if we all do it, it must be okay.”
There are times when the body knows God’s will, and there are times when the lone voice is the voice of God against the crowd. We have two responsibilities when we are asked to discern God’s truth from evil and sin in the world: be willing to hear the truth and be willing to respond to it. God is asking us to speak, to hear, to live God’s trust with God’s love. God asks us to speak so that others have an opportunity to respond. Remembering that when people respond, they don’t respond to us, but to God’s presence in their lives.
—Rev. Marty Aden
- How do you know what’s right when a group and an individual (or two individuals) with differing views each claim to be speaking for God?
- Have you ever been that “lone voice” that spoke out? How did God work in you to help?
- We have a responsibility to be good steward of the gospel. What does that mean to you?
- Have you ever heard a call to the ministry? Have you felt the need to tell someone else that you felt they were called? How did it feel? How did you respond?
How Do I Act?
- Search your own heart and be willing to hear if you are of a “rebellious people” or not. Sincerely seek God’s truth.
- Share your faith story with a friend. You may want to write it down and share it in story form. Or you may want to share it orally. This might also be a time to share it with the pastor’s class or new members’ class. Be sure to share your feelings as well as simply the facts.
- God has a message of love for the “rebellious people” in your community. Decide how to get the message out. Develop a strategy and get help from others.