[for the audio version of this sermon please click the above link]
We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who use what God gave them to serve others and His church said … AMEN!
As Christians we have a lot of “vocations”, we often thing of vocation as a trade school kind of thing, but it actually means calling. Our very little Bible study that we do on Wednesday mornings, is about our different vocations as Christians, how we serve in those vocations as a Christian. We use a book by Dr Gene Veith, a Lutheran, who has a very Lutheran view of a Christian’s vocation or calling. Dr Veith emphasizes that we are called to live our Christian life in our worklife, as citizens, as parents, children, neighbors, our church, all to the glory of God. Dr Luther had a very different view of vocation/calling then the Roman church. The church of the time and even now saw Christian vocation in a very limited sense, only those “vocations” that were considered to be “religious”, were a valid calling, that is priests; from the parish to a bishop, cardinal, pope, monks, nuns, other auxiliary types of church servants. These people had a Christian vocation and because of their vocation, they were directly serving the church and therefore the church saw those vocations as “holy”. All other vocations were secular and not as important. The word vocation is from the Latin vocatio or voces, meaning “calling”. Luther saw every vocation in terms of our Christian life. You might be a plumber, but as a Christian you are called to that vocation by God, you are to serve as a Christian plumber.
One of the discussions that Dr Veith has is in terms of Christians serving as police officers, military, judges, corrections officers. That is positions where someone might have to use deadly force to compel someone to submit or can impose death on another person. Lutheran teaching is quite clear in this area, if we are serving those who are, secularly speaking, innocent victims, those who expect the government’s protection, then as Christians in order to compel submission /compliance, we can use deadly force. That applies to those who are duly appointed to positions of public safety, and it certainly applies to American citizens who can use deadly force in order to protect someone who might be subjected to violent or deadly force. Luther actually commends those Christians who are willing to serve in occupations that could result in death or serious injury. Those Christian sects which refuse to recognize this principle are just wrong. They claim that Christians are forbidden from killing another human being, that is just not true. The sixth commandment tells us not to “murder”, that is to take the life of someone who is, again, innocent, it does not forbid us from taking the life of someone who is trying to harm another person. I’ll bet if a terrorist is trying to ignite a bomb in a crowd you’re in and a police officer or military person kills to prevent the terrorist from killing others, women, elderly, children, you’re not going to stand there and wag your finger at that person and tell them they’re bad for shooting. There are Christians who will do just that and they don’t know what they’re talking about. God had no compunction telling Old Testament figures like Debroah, Joshua, David to take someone out who was threatening His people.
We as Christians are called to a number of vocations. God calls us to those vocations and He wants us to serve in those vocations to His glory. So if you are a Christian plumber, you have just as holy a calling as a church pastor. If you are called to be a Christian accountant, you are not just regulated under FASB, you are also regulated to the extent of what God expects you to be as a Christian accountant. I am sure that you know that means to a much higher standard than others who are plumbers, accountants, police officers, military, public office holders, on an on. How about our young people? “I’m not in church, I’m in my seventh grade classroom, so I don’t need to get all caught up in what God’s calling me to do as a student.” My response: “Wrongo, chalk breath”, if you are serving God as a student, does He not have a reason and a plan for you to be in that particular classroom, studying that particular subject? If you decide, “eh, history’s not that important, I can mess around and slack off in this class”. Again, wrongo. God has you in that class for a reason.
If we are faithfully serving God, those around us should know that, they should know we are Christians. Yes, we should profess our faith, tell people about our faith and what Jesus does in our lives. That’s one reason why we have “faith- sharing moments” at the end of worship. For you to tell us how you’ve shared your faith, and I think we all understand that the Holy Spirit can lead us to do that in the workplace, the classroom, the softball team, the Elks Lodge, etc, etc, never to disrupt what is going on, but at a time when you know you should, telling someone about Jesus, especially in the context of what they and/or you are dealing with at the moment. But since those around you probably know you’re a Christian, but they also know that you’re disruptive, unreliable, you don’t do your job well, or study well, in general you don’t strive for what is best and glorifies God, you create problems for those around you. How do you think they will view Christians and especially in terms of God. “Wow, how can I take God seriously, when the Christians around me tell me it’s all about God, and yet they’re lousy students, unhelpful, even harmful in their work?” They’re not going to think much of God because you’ve shown them that being a Christian and your relationship in Jesus isn’t serious in terms of your whole life. We are to show people that we are serious about our vocations, that our calling is not just to do a good job, but to also show that whatever we are doing, we are doing it to the glory of God. Everything we do should be to the glory of God, and should be in a way that truly shows excellence, team-building, loyalty, trustworthiness, and much more. Anything less shows others that God isn’t really worth knowing.
You might think it’s pretty limited what our callings are. For most people in the world they see their “vocation” as their employment and we, as Christians, certainly have a calling in our 9-5 work life. That calling is not just in terms of I show up, do what I’m supposed to do, punch out, go home and that’s that. As Christians we are called to a much higher standard. We also have to understand that in terms of “serving”
Finally serving does mean to the best of our ability in the church. Remember, we serve because it is God who enables us to serve, in many ways, and then guides us into the service that He wants us to perform. We have many here in the church that put their time, talent and treasure in service to God, to the church. God has inspired them to be where they are, doing what they’re doing to His glory. When we are faithfully following Him, we serve Him to the best of our ability, not just sit back and let others carry the load. Stewardship is a vitally important part of being a church member. It is a subject that I will be including in my sermons from now on. I don’t want to make stewardship a five week sermon series. But I do want to make sure you understand how God is leading you to serve His church by the best use of your financial offerings, the talents and skills that God has given you and the time and health God has given you to devote to His church. Look over our reading in 1 Corinthians. Paul writes that there are a variety of services, activities and gifts God gives us: “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (12:7) How disobedient is it to have a God-given, gift, talent, time, and keep it entirely to yourself, fail to do anything with it in order to serve His church, His people and the people around you? We like to think that what we have is entirely because we’re such wonderful, special people and we deserve everything we get. As Christians we better know better than that! Whatever we have has been given to us by God and certainly we can enjoy it, benefit from it, grow in it, but we are not allowed to hoard it and not use it in service to others. People have hoarded their gifts, and at some point God simply pulls those gifts away from them. Could be money, could be a talent, could be your time. If you misuse it or don’t use it for God’s glory, He could decide to take it back, bestow it on someone God can trust to use it to the building of His Kingdom on earth.
The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom