The Lord be with you
Vocation. The “world” understands the word to by a synonym for “job,” but in Christian circles (from whom the “world” took the word and dumbed it down) it is so much more. Jacob A. O. Preus III does a wonderful job of exploring the topic, especially as it relates to us as individual believers in Christ.
He begins by considering the “performative” Word of God. This Word of God has a two-fold thrust as it first gathers us to Christ and then sends us to our neighbor. To accomplish this, our old sinful nature daily dies and our new nature in Christ rises to life. The Old Self is focused inward, on himself. The New Self lives in faith towards God (gathered) and love towards others (sent). In other words, our New Self is focused outward, focused in faith on Jesus and in love on our neighbor. This outward focus is made possible because Christ has done everything for us when he died on the Cross, so we do not need to hoard our works for ourselves. That outward focus on our neighbor is where our individual vocations come into play. Through these vocations we are “masks of God.” Our good works are how God cares for humanity, indeed his entire creation. Preus even gives us a biblical way to identify what is a “good work.” That may seem like a silly thing to do until we realize that the world, our sinful nature and the devil are constantly promoting works, which are not actually good works, as good works. It is easy to be fooled. Preus also considers the cross in our vocations. What is a cross might be very surprising. This is a very worthwhile read on a topic that is confusing to many.
Preus writes, “In the first call [to faith by the Gospel], our good works are nothing. In the second [call to love our neighbor], they are everything. So, we live out the implications of the Gospel call through our vocation as Christians.”
“[T]he purpose [of our vocations] is always the same: it is a ‘participation in God’s own care for human beings.’”
Jacob A. O. Preus III is the former president of Concordia University in Irvine, CA. He was also a professor at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Currently he is the Executive Vice President for Mission Advancement of Bethesda Lutheran Communities, Watertown, WI. He is the author of the excellent book “Just Words,” which I think I reviewed a year or two ago.
The booklet is only 16 pages long.