When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” Matthew 9:36-38
Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:3-6
In our prayers we always thank God for you. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We thank him because we have heard about the faith you have in Christ Jesus and the love you have for all of God’s people. Your faith and love continue because you know what is waiting for you in heaven—the hope you have had since you first heard the true message, the Good News that was told to you. Throughout the world, this Good News is bringing blessings and is spreading. And that’s what has been happening among you since the first time you heard it and understood the truth about God’s grace. Colossians 1:3-6
We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly. As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ. We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people .... As a result, you have become an example to all the believers in Greece—throughout both Macedonia and Achaia. And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere, even beyond Macedonia and Achaia, for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don’t need to tell them about it. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4, 7-8
With the goal of gaining a fuller understanding of what it means to be a new person with a new life through our relationship with Christ, we set out this week to examine three words: surrender, identity, and vocation. Surrender has to do with our commitment to Christ who is in charge of producing the "new person" and "new life" he has in store for us (See Wednesday's devotional). Identity is all that we are in Christ as he makes us into a new person with a new life (See Thursday's devotional). Vocation is our calling (central purpose for why we are here) to the life-long pursuit of letting the new person we are becoming and the new life that is unfolding have an impact on the people and world around us.
Let's begin our focus on "vocation" by pointing out that it is not really possible to separate vocation from identity. We might say that identity is who we are and vocation is what we do. When we explored identity yesterday we did so with the focus being more on who we are, but it would not be inaccurate to say that our identity includes both who we are and what we do. This is because what we do is the outworking of who we are. So, in this sense identity includes vocation. It is interesting that when we meet someone new, conversation almost always turns to the question, "what do you do (for a living)?" and not "who are you (as a person)?" So, generally what we do is very much a part of our identity.
Vocation on the human level almost always has to do with one's career. Some people have a sense of calling to their careers, but many do not. Spiritually, we are all called to a career of serving the kingdom. Serving the kingdom is our primary vocation, just as our primary identity is who we are in Christ (at least in the way considered it in yesterday's devotion). Take some time to go back through the passages above, both reading and thinking about the highlighted portions. These are the kind of expressions about spiritual vocation that need to shape how we view ourselves in regard to vocation so that we can move more and more toward it really being true that our primary vocation is serving the kingdom.
When Pastor Ben introduced the new series called "Framed" last Sunday, he said, "When we invite Christ into our lives, he does more than give us an eternal ticket. He gives us a new "frame." He also said that as we explore this new frame or new picture or new identity over the next three weeks, we will be looking at those who have a new story. Pastor Ben then introduced Jen Merryman as an example on someone with a new story. Jen then came and shared her presentation. She showed us the new frame or story of her vocation as well. Jen also shared examples of the new frame or new story of several other remarkable people. Please scroll down to Sunday, May 10th in the Devotionals and you will find the "Message Summary" that covers Jen Merryman's presentation if you would like to read it.
It is important to keep in mind that it usually does not necessitate a change in career and calling on the human level to make serving the kingdom your primary vocation. As a matter of fact, God is particularly interested in showing his people how to make an impact for the kingdom right where they are in the middle of all they are already doing. Remember, our spiritual vocation is all about letting the new person we are becoming and the new life that is unfolding have an impact on the people and world around us (right where we are).
Lord, thank you for the calling you have on my life. Teach me more and more of what it means to make serving your kingdom my primary vocation. Continue to help me surrender. Continue to shape my identity in Christ. Continue to accomplish your purposes by making my life a blessing to the world around me.
Posted on Fri, May 15, 2015
by Alan Porter