I love to see what happens when people discover Luther’s doctrine of vocation. Here Chaplain Mike at Internetmonk looks at St. Paul’s exhortation for the Christian life and contrasts it with what we hear from most pulpits today:
Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.
• 1Thessalonians 4:11-12 (NLT)
Chaplain Mike then contrasts that with what we would be more likely to hear from pulpits today:
In today’s church, we might have expected Paul to give a list of doable activities that one could perform on behalf of others to express love.
We have this thing about being “practical,” and we want to know the “steps” of “application.” We value creative ideas, instructions, a manual with directions to follow. We want to know which books to read, which videos to watch, which seminars to attend, which websites to consult, which counselor can help us make the breakthroughs we need to live this out more fully. Paul does not oblige.
• In today’s church, we might have expected Paul to give examples or tell a story that touches our hearts about how someone showed extraordinary, exemplary love for another, how a person showed sacrificial generosity toward another—perhaps an unworthy recipient—and how God blessed as a result.
Perhaps the person who received love opened his or her heart to Christ. Or maybe the person who sacrificed received back abundant blessings from the Lord for showing such love. Maybe a marriage was saved, a prodigal came home, a life turned around. Perhaps a video clip would be shown of people extending themselves in remarkable ways to serve and bless others. But Paul gives no such heart-tugging motivational example or story. . . .
Paul’s encouragement, instead, must seem remarkably lackluster and ordinary from the point of view of those who invest so much in spiritual engineering and technology, motivational methods, and churchianity. . . .
• Live a quiet life.
• Mind your own business.
• Work with your hands.
The best way to show Christian love to others? It almost sounds like a prescription for a small, selfish life! Yet this is how the Apostle, by divine inspiration, encourages us to live.
Paul commends a life that is the very opposite of activist churchianity. Instead, he advocates the way of Christian vocation—Walk humbly and quietly with God. Don’t think it’s your job to change the world. Quit sticking your nose in everybody else’s business. Do your work and do it well. Let Christ’s love for others grow naturally out of that soil. Earn the respect of your neighbors over time as you live your life in Christ. Slow down. Get small. Run quiet. Go deep. Grow up. Keep on keeping on. Stand on your own two feet. Become a mature human being.
Not sexy at all. Kind of disappointing.
Maybe the video will be more practical.