Martin Luther was instrumental in changing the religious world. This fact shouldn’t come as a surprise to many of you. But you may not know that his theology had substantial import for the believer’s involvement in the socio-economic world.
Vocation, from the latin voco “to call,” was specifically used to describe the nuns, monks, priests bishops, cardinals, (i.e. the religious order) of Luther’s day. This “class” of individuals had a “calling” from God, and their work was of supreme importance. These posts carried a significance absent in all other professions. Farmers, doctors, lawyers, politicians all had their work, but the religious order possessed a “calling” from God. This medieval theology of clergy was imbued with an air of piety and superiority.
Luther’s theology of vocation radically changed the believer’s perception of his role within the two kingdoms (kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of earth). Luther understood the believer’s “calling” is to live out his faith in all of life: family, work, culture. The clergyman is no longer elevated above the computer programmer or the file-clerk. Instead, every believer shares the same calling, to glorify God in all facets of life by being vessels for the Gospel.
I have known and believed this for some time now. I have encouraged Mary Beth on countless occasions that her work is for the kingdom. Even so, I never had to face the reality of this truth. For the past 7 years I have been a part of the “clergy” or in school for that purpose. It wasn’t difficult to live out the theological implications of vocation.
Finding myself in a family law office as a file-clerk forty hours a week has been difficult. The time for study, ministry, reading, writing and prayer has been reduced. The monotony of the job has set in, and I find it difficult to start the day with a good attitude, much less keep it throughout the day. At the heart of the matter is my selfishness. Instead of seeing my current job as a means to glorify God at this time in my life, I have seen it as a means to an end, a necessary evil in order to facilitate my re-entry into academia.
An understanding of vocation that forces the believer to remember his first love and seek the glory of God is convicting. I am guilty. I have treated time as if it is mine. It is God’s and it is to be used for his glory. I have robbed this time in my life of any ability to glorify God because of my hubris associated with the ministry and biblical scholarship. It must die. I must die, so that Christ and his Gospel might live through me.