5.Christ and Vocation
Then Jesus said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
As the second part of this series on Christ and culture, Christ and vocation should be understood as the domain where God is revealed to society in our day to day lives.
To understand the relationship between Christ and vocation, we cannot keep them rigidly compartmentalized. Your vocation is of your choosing, what you do with that life God has given you upon earth is a powerful witness of your faith and testimony of Him. If we understand that Christ through the Holy Ghost lives in us, we see that He also walks down the street in us and goes to work in us, all to reveal His life and His purposes for us.
So if we understand this right, your vocation is very important to God. It is not a timid accommodation to prevailing culture. This is truly where Christ and culture collide! An opportunity to live the Christian life in practical ways with the support of God’s grace. You can be in the world, but not of the world in your chosen line of work. No matter what part of society you work in, the Lord’s purposes are made clear within the correct principles for each domain. Be it education, church, economics, education, family, science, the arts or government, as individuals we have the responsibility and calling to be as Jesus Christ with would be in our workplace.
By calling Christians into the world, we are also calling them to be truly not of this world in their expression of Christ. People will notice the statement your life will make when you live with them and uphold Christ-like behavior in both word and deed.
We must bear our message into public life, not just when we are in church, for that is the salt and light we should be, at all times and in all places. Somehow we have many have decided that only the spiritual sphere is when we are within the walls of a church, whereas all other places are the secular sphere is where only civil, economic, political and social laws apply. We tend to become existentialists and agnostic, not Christian.
Sometimes we are called to a patient endurance of an oppressive government, as in the case of Zimbabwe, the church has not taken up arms, instead opting to pray for the salvation of members in government and protest through vocation, and if that fails then to put their trust in God’s ability to raise up an enemy for the oppressor. But in some cases, Christians are not only permitted but also required to fight for the Kingdom, in that situation, a correct vocation may be one of a soldier. The opposition against Nazi Germany was one such case where the leader was intent on destroying Christianity and monotheistic worldview to replace it with an idolatrous nationalism. It was morally right to fight that war.
In the case where a government is ordained by God, a Christian in his vocation may have less need to call for such significant reforms. Sadly, we live in an age where irresponsibility is rife and abandonment of Christ-like behavior is widespread, particularly in the most important of vocations, parenthood. Day-care allows even those who can afford to raise their own children to abdicate that responsibility. Since all of our life is a testimony we bare of Christ, surely abandonment of parenthood must be a sin.
Also since Christ is an innovator and His creativity knows no bounds, both the form and content of our vocations should be developed by those of us who partake of His life. Thus we can improve, adapt and innovate in our work to make it more fruitful and more useful. Techniques in so-called “secular advances” can be implemented without sin, a Christian designer looks to new designs and material, not scripture necessarily, to develop his craft. A Christian car manufacturer seeks to develop the best car using the best materials on offer. On the other hand, a Christian doctor should protest any requirement for him to perform any medical procedure that is not in keeping with God’s plan as part of his vocation under God.
This is the criteria for knowing the redeemable and non-redeemable aspects of a culture. The paradox of divine values dwelling in a human believer with an unswerving eye to Christ’s principles is required in each domain of society. The idea that Christ lives in you, though you still fail, and His law is immutable unlike man’s law, yet you obey the law in your daily life, protesting where it becomes necessary to uphold God’s law and glory.
This view avoids self-righteous separatism on the one side and double-minded irresponsibility on the other. It affirms any earthly calling as not in itself sinful, and secular techniques can be embraced in so far as they affirm the word of God. Temporal authority should be respected and tyrannical leadership endured provided it is instituted by God, though not without protest from within one’s vocation (the role of the suffering servant); but when the government is by nature directly opposed to Christ it must be resisted, even with force.
Reform and innovation are considered good, so long as the fruits it bears are good and demonstrate the love of God. We need to be aware of God’s transforming nature as well as Satan’s unrelenting degrading nature in the world. Where the Word is (Christ) revealed in truth and faithfulness transformation of culture will occur through the individual members of the body of Christ. You cannot make men good through man’s law but a good society is impossible without good men.
There is enough evidence today in the world to prove that a secular law acting on people without any inner transformation of spirit to Christ-like values struggles to control anyone, yet where the two are held in tension, Christ’s values in us expressed as our very lives conduct, we find a force for change, within us and without us, as we change in our secular laws to more perfectly align with Christ’s Laws.
This option also reminds us of our humility and humanity in Christ and our failings and predisposition to sin, as well as shattering any dreams of any kind of utopian society on earth. While at the same time denying ourselves and taking up our vocations and following Christ through costly witness, and protest and a willingness to allow our lives to be the cross that Christ hangs upon to the glory of God.
Ultimately, Jesus Christ atonement is where life and death meet and He and humanity are reconciled. This is where Christ and culture collide, through the Holy Ghost in you helping you conform to His work and influencing others to seekHim. Where Christ and culture collide.