The New Testament assumes that all Christians will share in the life of the local church, meeting with it for worship (Heb 10:25), accepting its nurture and discipline (Matt 18:15-20; Gal 6:1), and sharing in its work of witness. Christians disobey God and impoverish themselves by refusing to join with other believers when there is a local congregation that they can belong to.
– J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs, 202
Our church recently had a staff member who surprised everyone by taking a position at another church. In and of itself such moves aren’t all that shocking except that in this case said staffer’s tenure hadn’t even reached a full six months. Mr. X, we hardly knew ye.
Before I continue I should go on record as saying that I don’t have any ill-feelings toward the man nor is this post intended to critique the circumstances & decision surrounding his departure. I do, however, want to consider his primary rationale for leaving because so many other Christians have expressed a similar justification for a host of other moves executed in dating, marriage, career choice, church choice, procreation, recreation, etc.
You’ve seen it & heard it. It’s the Christian trump card. How & when to play the card will vary but the player who lays it down will declare something like “it’s a God thing”, “it’s the Lord’s will”, or “the Lord is leading me/has told me to…” Some thoughts:
1. “It’s a God thing” isn’t a unique insight. Everything is a “God thing” (Job 37:6-13; Prov 16:33; 20:24; Acts 17:28). The expression shouldn’t preempt discussion & inquiry; it should solicit further explanation.
2. Claiming “it’s a God thing” doesn’t leave us unaccountable for our actions. God works all things after the counsel of His will (Eph 1:11) and we’re responsible for our actions (see Gen 50:20; Acts 4:24-28).
3. If “it’s a God thing” we shouldn’t fear exposure to the light. When we feel the need to maintain secrecy or to move in the shadows we cast doubt on our claim to be enacting God’s will (Jn 3:20). What would we have to hide?
4. “A God thing” is about more than just the end result. God is certainly concerned with what we do/choose but He’s also just as concerned (in some cases more so) with how we act/choose (Zec 7:5-6; 1Cor 13:1-3; James 1:20; 4:3).
5. Claiming “it’s a God thing” is often a cover for intellectual laziness.
If we can’t ground our actions/decisions on Scripture we’re just moving by human impulse. As Christians, we’ve been given access to God’s mind by the ministry of His Spirit through His written word (1Cor 2:12-13; Rom 12:2; 2Tim 3:16-17).