I have been gone from this blog for some time. Life has a way of filling up, keeping us busy, moving us forward, and then at times, backward. In the midst of it, there are many vocations to fulfill. As a husband, I have a bride to love and cherish. As a father of four young children, I have many voices to hear, discipline to provide, and many hugs to give. As a son and a brother, I have other family to care for. As a Sr. Pastor in team ministry, with an active and growing parochial grade school, there are staff members to lead and many souls to shepherd. As a Christian, I have sins to be absolved, temptations to battle, and neighbors to serve. In short, there is much that has been on my plate.
But taking time to “smell the roses” and to fill our vocations can be refreshing and freeing. No, it may not always be easy. Yes, it can be mundane. Yes, it can also be draining and even demanding. However, there is joy in knowing that in each of these vocations God is at work behind them, ensuring His created order is cared for and nourished. And it is within these very vocations that the Holy Christian Church also has a distinct and yet simple gospel proclaiming vehicle.
No extra burden needs to be placed upon Christians. No “you’re not really a Christian if you don’t make your whole life about evangelism.” No “you’re not fulfilling the Great Commission if you don’t witness to the gas station clerk.” Everyday ordinary Christians can be freed to live their ordinary lives, love their family, go to work, serve their neighbor, and share their faith in the midst of their vocations.
The massive burdens that some current church trends, along with their speakers and authors, are placing upon the faithful are taking their toll. The Gospel of Jesus Christ continues to be confused. His work “for you” is being displaced and even replaced by “your work for Him.” Of course I recognize the “good works” which “God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). However, I want to celebrate and maintain the truth that we are first and foremost “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus…” (Eph. 2:8-10). It’s something that the Scriptures are clear that we cannot replace or even displace in the slightest if we want to take sin and the forgiveness of sin as seriously.
Of course, telling others about the salvation that comes through Jesus Christ is part of the Christian faith. But that alone is not what defines and shapes the Christian faith. Far from it. The work of Christ “for you” defines the Gospel. And His Spirit at work through His Word defines the faith. Nonetheless, the recognition and recovery of the theology of vocation frees us to live life, love our family, go to work, serve our neighbor, and share our faith in the midst of our vocations.
In fact, the recovery of vocation is spreading to more than just Lutherans. In his 2011 book, You Lost Me, David Kinnaman explores the possibilities of why the Holy Christian Church is losing countless young people from the Church. He has many thoughtful things to say and offers the contemporary church much to consider. However, one fascinating claim he makes is that the Church needs to recover the theology of vocation:
The second thing I have learned through the process of our research is that the Christian community needs to rediscover the theology of vocation. There is confusion about this term, the use of which is often limited to trade or “vocational” education. But in Christian tradition, vocation is a biblically robust, directive sense of God’s calling, both individually and collectively. Vocation is a clear mental picture of our roles as Christ-followers in the world, of what we were put on earth to do as individuals and as a community. It is a centuries-old concept that has, for the most part, been lost in our modern expression of Christianity… It is a modern tragedy. Despite years of church-based experiences and countless hours of Bible-centered teaching, millions of next-generation Christians have no idea that their faith connects their life’s work. (Ch. 11, Kindle Edition, location 3482).
Perhaps it would be good for the church to give her members permission to take the time to “smell the roses,” fill their vocations, and live in the freedom Christ has won for us.
As always, this blog endeavors to thoughtfully, honestly, and collegially, talk about the mission of the Holy Christian Church and what it means to be authentically Lutheran, while “discipling all nations” in the 21st century. For those willing to enter the fray, I welcome your constructive thoughts and reactions.