Tuesday, June 14, 2005

On the Christian Calling(s)

Too often when Christians hear the word “calling” they assume it to be synonymous with occupation. In fact, I think the idea of calling carries the concept of man’s lifetime service and subordination to God. As a husband, father of three young boys, member of a community, disciple of Jesus, etc., I wear a number of hats and have various sundry callings or purposes that God has laid before me.

Service to God, however, primarily implies service to men. Though the whole creation belongs to the Lord (Ex. 19:5) we are the stewards of His creation (Gen. 1:26-28). Christians occasionally exhibit Gnostic and Platonic tendencies when they over-spiritualize the faith. Spirituality divorced from the earthy practicalities of Scripture is, in fact, an enemy of true Christianity.

Having a wife and three children under age five presents a number of challenges and certainly creates constraints on my time. Yet what grander purpose could God have for my life than living in covenant under His authority with the beautiful woman he has given to me? Indeed, when God through the Apostle Paul described the glorious mystery of the relationship between Christ and His people, He used the metaphor of marriage (Eph. 5:22-33). Paul also used that opportunity to provide imperative commands to husbands and wives. Wives, through submitting to and honoring their husbands reflect God’s purpose for His people. Likewise, husbands become one flesh with their wives, and in loving their wives reflect Christ’s love for His people. In short, my calling and purpose is to love my wife.

Likewise, raising children is a Godly and honorable calling. In Malachi, we read, “Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because He was seeking godly offspring.”

Writing when Christians looked to Scripture rather than the NY Times bestseller list to find life’s purpose, Martin Luther wrote about the purpose of marriage:

The purpose of marriage is not to have pleasure and to be idle but to procreate and bring up children, to support a household. Those who have no love for children are swine, stocks, and logs unworthy of being called men or women; for they despise the blessings of God, the Creator and Author of marriage.

Frequently, marriage and child-rearing are difficult tasks that appear distasteful in the eyes of foolish men. But we would have an entirely different view of the matter if we looked at things through God’s eyes instead, and sought to glorify and honor Him in all things. To quote Luther again:

Our natural reason looks at marriage and turns up its nose and says, "Alas! Must I rock the baby? Wash its diapers? Make its bed? Smell its stench? Stay at nights with it? Take care of it when it cries? Heal its rashes and sores? And on top of that care for my spouse, provide labor at my trade, take care of this and take care of that? Do this and do that? And endure this and endure that? Why should I make such a prisoner of myself?”

What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful and despised duties in the spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels.

Its says, "O God, I confess I am not worthy to rock that little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of a child and its mother. How is it that I without any merit have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving thy creature and thy most precious will? Oh, how gladly will I do so. Though the duty should be even more insignificant and despised, neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labor will distress me for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in thy sight.”

Scripture says that children are a blessing (Ps. 127:3-5) from God, and that as parents we must train (Eph. 6:4), correct (Prov. 29:15), and instruct them (Deut. 6:1-9) in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

The education of children is also a noble calling, and it is a parental calling. Doug Wilson says that as parents we are responsible for what our children learn whether we teach it to them or not. In an age where parents hand their children to the state and church for instruction, such a warning should be frightening. Moreover, the education of which I speak is not merely religious instruction. There is no such thing as neutral or secular education. Either it is grounded in the fear of the Lord or it is atheistic (anti-theistic). Consider the words of God through Moses in Deuteronomy 6:

1 These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 3 Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD , the God of your fathers, promised you.
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. [a] 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

The law and word of God are comprehensive in scope and as parents we are called to teach our children theology, science, history, economics, politics and all other disciplines from the perspective of God’s Word, always keeping in mind that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

I thank God that in His grace He allows me to participate in His Kingdom, to be His servant, to work for the fulfillment of His purposes. I'm grateful to my Father for the knowledge that crunching numbers is not the entirety of my calling, but that in serving others--particularly my family--I serve Him and participate in greatest of callings.


Lee Shelton said...

"The law and word of God are comprehensive in scope and as parents we are called to teach our children theology, science, history, economics, politics and all other disciplines from the perspective of God's Word, always keeping in mind that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."

That certainly bears repeating. Thanks for the post!

Darrell said...

God Bless your faithfulness in raising seven children. I can't even seem to keep up with my three!! Your reward is, and will be, great.

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