Last week we began looking at vocation as discussed in John Stackhouse’s Making the Best of It. We’ve discussed human vocation. Today we turn to Christian vocation.
The biblical narrative tells us that humanity has rebelled against God. God is now on a mission to redeem us and creation from this broken relationship. To this end, God has “called out” a people for himself to give witness to who he is and the new creation that is to come. He calls us to repentance. But here, Stackhouse makes a critically important distinction:
A couple of pages later he writes:
Failure to understand the redemptive call as a call within a larger call is, in my estimation, one of the single biggest dysfunctions in the life of the Church. On the one hand are those who have all but lost any sense of God’s redemptive call, especially in terms of personal transformation, and on the other hand those want to make the redemptive call all there is. Stackhouse’s clarification on these issues is very helpful and absolutely crucial.
In this subsection, Stackhouse goes on to talk about the witness of the church. He notes that there are three modes in which we are a witness.
- The Church experiences something and relates that experience to others. We have stories to tell and experiences share.
- We are to be examples, imperfect as we may be, of what the Kingdom of God looks like. Others not only hear about Kingdom of God but see it alive before them.
- “Christ calls us beyond the roles of witness and example to be actual agents of mission.” We actively engage in transformative work in the world that moves the world closer to the idea of shalom. We are called to the hard work of “changing people’s loves.”
Stackhouse points again to the win-win-win dynamic of our call. Caring for others contributes to our sanctification and brings pleasure to God. There is a synergy in holistic witness that spirals upwards toward greater shalom all the way around.
Also, Stackhouse explicitly connects the dots between our obedience to the creation commandments as integral to our obedience to the redemption commandments. The tangible expressions of the Kingdom will come in our daily acts of “dominion” and practice of the great Commandments. While human and Christian vocation cannot be confused with each other, neither can they be separated.
We have seen what Christian vocation means for “all.” Next we look at his reflections on what it means for “some” and for individuals.”