“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
Even though Labor Day is behind us, I wish to revisit the need to celebrate the many things that we do that makes our lives significant and affect the lives of others. One of the most influential theologians of the 20th century was Gustaf Wingren, who remarked concerning Martin Luther’s theology of vocation, that every vocation has its setting in a particular place and deals with particular people at a definite time. Wingren wrote that through Christian freedom, “faith and relation to God attain real significance for vocation, and vocation is shaped solely according to the need of others.”
Please note, vocation is not so much about a career or punching the clock where at the end of the week we get paid. Vocation is so much more! Vocation is how we serve God wherever He sends us and it is a means by which, God cares for His creation and for people. Luther called our vocations, “masks of God” meaning on the surface we see a human face as parent, grandparent, husband, wife, child, student, teacher, farmer, worker, business owner, pastor, etc. However, behind these “masks,” God ministers to us through them.
God created male and female to exist in the network of relationships, which Luther called the “three estates”, namely ecclesiastical (church), civil (public and government) and familial (marriage, family and home). God instituted the three estates and sanctified them by His word, for the good of His creation for the purpose to curb sin and to permit His people to live in peace and concord. God works within these three estates through human means. Thus, the Christian love and serves God and their neighbor in their vocations within these three estates.
By outward appearance these estates may appear quite ordinary and mundane. They do not require the need to be cloister off from the rest of humanity to be seen as God please acts. According to Luther, “These are the three hierarchies ordained by God, and we need no more; indeed, we have enough and more than enough to do in living aright and resisting the devil in these three.”
Because these estates are the battlefronts in which the devil wills to divide, these seemingly ordinary stations become the location of extraordinary duties of a higher calling for God’s people. In other words, these are the fields of spiritual warfare of the Christian. Satan’s chief tactic is to divide; to divide believes from each other, to divide believers from God’s eternal authoritative word and to divide believers from God; to cause division within the three estates.
Church, family, and the American life afford many opportunities for the father of all lies to fragment lives and relationships, it is a target-rich environment for the enemy. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in His high priestly prayer, would have us be in this world and not of it (John 17:15–16). He would have His followers live in their stations in life, their vocations, to let their “light shine” so that others would witness their acts of mercy, kindness, responsibility, bravery and courage, and love to glorify the source of these virtues and attributes, God the Father (Matthew 5:16). Through our labor, no matter how humble, God is at work!