God at Work

God at Work February 4, 2021
My publisher, Crossway, informed me that the Kindle version of my book God at Work:  Your Christian Vocation in All of Life will be on sale at a discount at Amazon, today through February 10.
I was asked to put out the word about this deal among my readers, so here you go.
Many of you are already familiar with this book, which offers a popular treatment of Luther’s doctrine of vocation, a key teaching of the Reformation that had somewhat faded away in contemporary Christianity, but which is enormously transformative, liberating, and practical for Christians today.
But vocation–not just as a treatment of “jobs” but as a theology of the everyday Christian life–is being rediscovered, and I’m happy and humbled that this little book has played a role in that.
This is happening in terms of various theological traditions, but the Lutheran emphasis, as I develop in God at Work, is, first, that vocation is a “mask of God.”  That is, vocation–the Latinate word for “calling”–involves God Himself working through and by means of human beings to bestow His blessings.  Thus, He gives daily bread by means of farmers, millers, and bakers; He creates and cares for new human beings through the vocations of mothers and fathers; etc.  And, second, that the purpose of every vocation is not self-fulfillment or performing great works for God, but loving and serving one’s neighbor.
To mark the occasion of this special offer from Crossway and Amazon, I will offer you a sample.  As I explore in the book, our vocations are multiple, corresponding to the different estates, or systems of relationships, that God has designed for human life:  the household, the church, and the state.  “Vocation” in the sense of how we make a living was, for Luther, part of the “household,” which comprises the family and how that family makes its living.
This is the introduction to Chapter 6, on the Vocations of the Family:

The church was packed for the funeral of a lady in her upper eighties. She and her late husband had had a lot of children, and here they were, along with a whole slew of grandchildren and a passel of great-grandchildren. Add in the spouses of the various generations, plus nieces and nephews and their children, and the church was pretty much filled with family, all coming before God to thank Him for this woman’s life and to commend her back to Him.

What if this woman had not happened to meet her husband, way back in the 1930s? What if they had not gotten married? Half of the people in the church, from the middle-aged grand­ parents to the little kids squirming in the pews, would cease to exist. The union.of that man and woman had consequences they could never have dreamed about, leading to untold numbers of new lives down through continuing new generations, untold numbers of baptisms, new marriages, and new children being born. Clearly God was working through this woman along with her husband in the family they started.

Every Christian–indeed, every human being–has  been called by God into a family. Our very existence came about by means of our parents, who conceived us and brought us into the world. Again, God could. have populated the earth by creating each new person separately from the dust; but instead He chose to bring forth and care for ,new life by means of the family.

The family is the most basic of all vocations, the one in which God’s creative power and His providential care are most dramatically conveyed through human beings. Anthropologists point out that the family is the basic unit of every culture. The family, with its God-delegated authorities, is likewise the basis for every other human authority. Thus the vocation of citizen­ ship has its foundation in the family, and the father’s calling to provide for his children gives rise to his calling in the workplace. And even in the Church, the family is lifted up as an image for the intimate relationship that God has with His people: God is our Father in Heaven; the Church is the Bride of Christ.

We were born into a family, our very existence being due to a mother and a father. Being a child is a vocation, according to the Reformers, and we will always be the child to our parents. And it may be that we children, in turn, will be called into mar­riage–another lifetime relationship–and that we will be called to be parents, with children of our own. All of these are holy, divine vocations from the Lord.

Then the chapter goes on to discuss how each of these vocations function in God’s design as realms for living out our faith in love and service to the specific neighbors they bring into our lives.

I have written other things on the topic of vocation since God at Work came out in 2002, including an entire book on this topic of the callings within the family that I co-authored with my daughter Mary Moerbe:  Family Vocation:  God’s Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood.

Get that one too!

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