I’m going to do you a big favor, I am going to bring you a little up to speed on our Coffee Break group on Wednesday mornings, 10am at First St Johns. We are studying Dr Gene Veith’s book God at Work. If you are a Christian and you work you should, at least, read this book and really should be part of a group that’s sharing and studying this book.
Anyway, Dr Veith talks about good works “which are primarily done within vocation, are the fruits of faith.” He goes on to point out an issue which is important whether we are talking about vocation or any aspect of life: “Good works are done not for God but for the neighbor. The whole purpose of every vocation is to ‘love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt 22:39).” Let’s face it, for most of us our neighbor is the person in the cube next to you, like it or not, you’re going to know that person a heckuva lot better than the folks that live in the house next door to the house you live in.
Dr Veith goes on to make a point that cannot be stressed enough, vocation is something wherein we are serving and not harming. I’ve heard stories of people claiming to be “strippers for Jesus” or someone who is pushing different kinds of activities that are really about feeding our base desires, versus uplifting us, helping us to be more in touch with God versus just feeding our appetites, that is making us the idol of our life. I’m not saying we can’t have fun, we can’t enjoy life but when it’s something that’s violating commandments or Jesus’ word, that’s not acceptable. Come on, if you’re watching a woman taking her clothes off aren’t we talking Matthew 5:28? “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” And that goes for ladies lusting after beefcake. If we are pursuing politics hatefully, and that goes both ways, trying to make pariah out of people versus dealing with the issues. The “Good time Charlie” guy I wrote about recently, and, sorry if this offends someone, the pawn broker, the pay day advance guy, the banker who charges $10 to cash checks written on their bank. These are pure and simple attempts to take advantage of the poor, Jesus of course says “…‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matt 25:40) I’ve heard all the arguments, but one has to ask themself, as a Christian should I be tempting my brothers/sisters with sex, greed, gluttony, envy on and on. “If follows that not every occupation or way of making a living can be a vocation. Being a drug dealer is not a calling from God. This particular job does not involve loving one’s neighbors; rather it harms them. Occupations such as thief, embezzler, contract killer and other crimes would also be outside the pale of vocation. They are intrinsically sinful. They show no love and service. God is not hidden in them. Only the Devil is.”
“Even some legal jobs are not legitimate vocations. An abortionist is not loving and serving his neighbor, the child in the womb … Making or selling products that are legal but harmful is no vocation from God. Nor is making or selling products that do not benefit the neighbor – all of the legal scams, bogus medicines and wastes of money that are on the market today. Being a member of the ‘idle rich’ is no vocation, unless the wealth is used somehow, throug productive investment or philanthropy, to be of benefit to someone else.” He goes on to discuss those in the entertainment industry. I will discuss that later.
I realize I’m preaching to the choir, those who are probably reading this are striving to be faithful in their vocation. We have all had interaction with things that do not build up, that we have failed at, at one point in our life. We may have failed, and we have repented, been forgiven and God has taught has and taken us forward in our life. That doesn’t mean that others should do the same things, maybe we went through experiences to be a positive influence on others. But there will be folks you are going to come into contact with who are going to push these thoughts on you. The whole discussion of the “Adult Book Store” being put in, yea the abortion clinic, other places where kids really don’t need to be hanging out at. Are these places or occupations that are building us up, trying to make us better people in a better community, serving Christ or is it serving our individual lusts and desires? You’re not going to be popular making a stand for a Christian world view, Jesus told us that the world would hate us. But are you concerned with character and integrity or are you more concerned with being “popular”?
Lifting up concerns like this at work, may not be a good “career move”, but maybe your neighbor in the next cube needs you to stand up, maybe he/she needs you to serve them directly. God doesn’t usually give us “easy” issues and when it comes to our vocation, or seeing others abuse their vocation, it is definitely difficult. Yea, you want to pray over these things, and maybe in terms of “am I serving the Lord, first and foremost, am I serving my family in terms of my vocation, am I serving my neighbor.