Berufungs- und Anrufungspunkten

Going back over The Christian Life, it hits me just what it means that every moment of our calling is a moment of our prayer, in Barth's responsive language. Every moment of our calling receives an answer which cannot be "yes, I know," and cannot also agree with what we have previously decided for ourselves as the ethical course of action. We cannot know the unique command in advance of the unique situation, though we may retrospectively see the hand of God at work in our history of actions. We cannot presume to take an action which we desire and call it God's calling, asking as though to a dead telephone handset and pantomiming the answer. Once we get past that, we are well and truly stuck. Or we would be, if we were on our own. As God provokes us to the good, we invoke God asking "what is the good?" And as Barth says in CL, the moment we do so honestly and bewilderedly, demonstrating our faith and trust, we are half-way to obedience. God calls, and we pray. We are, in point of fact, obedient to the gospel and its form as the command of God when we participate in this responsive cycle -- so long as we are active agents and not merely passive. So long, that is, as our piety consists of actual responsiveness. We pray, and God calls. So long, then, as our prayer is not a substitute for action, but part of the path.

And if you find yourself existentially concerned about whether your action and your prayer, taken together, constitute bad faith, don't let it destroy you. The state of human existence is in conflict with its essence because of sin. God is changing you, and you will be changed. Receive the grace of God, refresh yourself in the Means and the Word, and keep acting and praying in Christ.


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