By Karely Garcia, Bethel Seminary San Diego
We all work for an audience, whether we are aware of it or not. The big difference between Christians and non-Christians is that we as Christians look to an “audience of one,” our heavenly Father. That gives us accountability and joy in our work. We have to make sure that we are respecting those who believe differently than us. It is important to treat them and value them as equals in the workplace, and at the same time we will be unashamed to be identified with Jesus. Christians who follow this perspective will be striking an unusual and healthy balance.
However, as Christians we have a vocation and purpose in life. Our purpose in life is to do good works, which God Himself “prepared” for us to do. We are God’s workmanship, which means that God is at work in us to do the works He intends. Our relationship to other people in the world involves our work. God does not need our good works, but our neighbor does.
Christians are citizens in both of God’s kingdoms. In His spiritual kingdom, we rest in Christ; in His earthly kingdom, we serve our neighbors. Genuine good works have to actually help someone. In vocation, we are not doing good works for God; we are doing good works for our neighbor.
The purpose of vocation is to love and serve one’s neighbor. I can serve my neighbor with my talents, and my neighbor can serve me with his talents. Everyone is constantly giving and receiving. It turns out that when we love and serve our neighbors, we are loving and serving Him after all.
Matthew 25:24 says “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Thus, Christ is hidden in our neighbors, particularly those in need. What motivates Christians to love their neighbors is to see Christ in them. Particular neighbors may not be very lovable, but Christ loves them and died for them, and if they are fellow Christians He indwells them through the same Holy Spirit that we share with them. He accepts what we do for others as if we had done it for Him.
Our vocation is not something we choose for ourselves. It is something to which we are called. To the Lord all vocations are equal in status. The person blessed with wealth dare not feel superior to others or look down upon those who have less. Vocation comes from the outside, having to do with opportunities and circumstances, doors opening and slamming in our face. Circumstances are beyond our control, but they can lead us away from some vocations and into where God is calling us.
The point here is not to identify vocations for people who think they do not have one, but to emphasize that our Christian calling is to be played out in whatever our daily life consists of. Christians need to realize that the present is the moment in which we are called to be faithful. We can do nothing about the past. The future is wholly in God’s hands. The present is what we have. We are to love our neighbors, the people who are actually around us, and our vocation is for God to serve them through us.
Finding our vocation is not just finding my life work, nor even finding what God wants me to do. Finding our vocation is a matter of finding where God is, the God who hides Himself in our neighbors, in ourselves, and in His world. Once we notice the “hidden” God, realize how He is at work, and realize the part we play in His design, we have found our vocation. In sum, the whole purpose of every vocation is to love my neighbor as myself.
We all can be God’s partners because He invites us to partner with Him. We all can partner with God with our vocation or job; it does not need to be just related to church. The whole world is the field where we can work for God’s kingdom with Him.
It is important to say that faithful vocational stewardship is not only about doing, it’s also about being. We can work hard helping others and the world, but if we are just focused on doing, we are going to fail in our calling. When we are more focused on being, the doing is going to come as a consequence. Our Father desires us to deploy our time, talents, and treasure to offer others foretastes of the coming kingdom. Those who do so are called the righteous. In sum, we are blessed to be a blessing.
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