Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Bethany Bullet-Tuesday, October 14, 2008

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord, not for men.”
(Colossians 3:23)

Martin Luther spent time writing and preaching about the idea of vocation and the talents we employ on a day-to-day basis. In Luther’s day (and the same could be said today) many believed that the only occupations that were “godly” were those within the context of church work. But Luther had a different idea. He once said, “Being a good and honest butcher or shoemaker was as holy a vocation as being a priest of the church”.

You see, our talents are employed as we are employed be that at work or home, public or private sector, AND as we are engaged in volunteering our time be that in congregational life or community organizations.

“Wait a minute here! You mean to tell me that my 9-5 job behind a desk or a drill, in front of a class or a computer is godly work?” YES!! Many who think there is no God in their work try to make up for it by volunteering their time at church in order to get their “God time” in. Some even start to become resentful of their “regular” work as it is something that must be done to make ends meet and to pay the bills. This is just what Jesus was warning us about in Matthew 6 when he said, “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Divided loyalties end with disappointing results.
(Six words)

If our vocation is to carry on the work of God—then the physician who performs a heart transplant and the orderly who wheels the patient back to his room have the same spiritual significance. The custodian, carpenter, and CEO are on equal ground because they have the same calling. The concept of Christian vocation liberates us from bondage to a value system, which measures worth according to educational degrees and earning power. We are ALL called. Every one of us is God’s person in and for the world.

Now, in reality, God does not need people to help Him make the world work. He does not need the butcher or the farmer to keep the world fed. He could make bread fall from the sky. He does not need doctors and nurses to keep his people healthy. He could heal people all by Himself. God does not even need men and women to make babies. He could speak them into existence. But he chooses to include us in His work so that we are His hands in feeding and healing His people. God is at work in every aspect of our lives. Every legitimate human occupation (paid or unpaid) is some dimension of God’s own work: making, designing, doing chores, beautifying, organizing, helping, bringing dignity, and leading. Somehow we have lost the idea of being at work for God in our occupations.

But let’s be real. The truth is that our occupations have come under the occupation of sin. Our lives get occupied with the things we want to do and sin takes up residence and soon we live under the rule of an occupied force. We become so occupied with sin that our occupations no longer bring glory to God. It is a struggle that all believers find. But vocation goes beyond occupation. Vocation belongs to our situation between baptism and final resurrection—a situation where there are two kingdoms (heaven and earth), two contending powers (God and Satan), and two antagonistic components within each Christian (the old self and the new self).

We struggle because of sins occupation.
(Six words)

When we struggle, the best place to turn is to Jesus, who defeated the occupation of sin once and for all. His vocation was done by the work of his hands, as he was willingly nailed to the cross for you and for me. He gave up His life, His hands became lifeless so that our hands could be freed from the occupation of sin and released for vocations that bring glory to God. The talents and abilities that we have been given by God find their strength, their beginning, and their purpose in the work of Jesus on the cross and in His resurrection. The hands that broke bread, gave sight to the blind, and healed the sick performed the most loving act of service—they went to the cross and defeated death. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

All we have, including our talents come from Him so that we can cry out:
Where, O death is your Victory? (Six words)
Where, O death is your Sting? (Six words)

Take a look at your hands…Jesus had hands just like yours. You have been created for a purpose. That purpose is to live for Him in all you do, in all you say, and in all you are. Jesus’ work was the salvation of mankind but it was done with a set of hands. What have your hands been created to do? Perhaps you know, perhaps you don’t, and perhaps it will change, but I will remind you once again of the words of Paul, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

Max Lucado in his book, Shaped By God writes the following, and I want to use it as our prayer today:

Ah, to be your instrument, O God,
like Paul to the Gentiles,
like Philip to the eunuch,
like Jesus to the world…to be your instrument

To be like a scalpel in the gentle hands of a surgeon, healing and mending.

To be like a plow in the weathered hand of a farmer, sowing and tending.

To be like a scythe in the sweeping hand of a reaper, gathering and using.

To be…an instrument for noble purposes.

To be honed and tuned, in sync with your will, sensitive to your touch.

This, my God, is my prayer. Draw me from your fire, form me on your anvil, shape me with your hands, and let me be your tool. AMEN!


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