“Vocation” — Today, this word is often used synonymously with “employment” or “occupation” to refer to what you do to make money (or what you do for no pay, as the case may be).
“Calling” — In the modern church, this word is often Christian-speak for one’s “spiritual service” or what “God has called you to do.”
It is unfortunate that “vocation” and “calling” have come to have two different meanings. “Vocation” comes from the Latin “vocare,” which means, “to call.” Your vocation is your calling. Your calling is your vocation. And if what occupies your time is not what you believe God has called you to do, you might spend some serious time considering the disparity.
This week’s song — “All Things Good” — is written to help God’s people celebrate his goodness in our vocations, reminding ourselves of how our various vocations glorify God.
In the church, it can seem as though some vocations—such as “pastor” and “missionary”—are elevated above others, set on a pedestal and viewed as more “spiritual” or more “godly” than others. Consequently, we seem to relegate other vocations—such as bakers, construction workers, farmers, and caregivers, for example—to a “lower level.” Christians in these fields and others may leave thinking that they are not engaged in significant work.
We forget that our Savior is also a Creator. In fact, God is a Gardener, City-Builder, Storyteller, Songwriter, Shepherd—the list goes on. Salvation itself is an act of re-creation, the planting of a New Garden, the building of a New City. In the beginning, God was a food-grower and bread-giver, a builder and a life-giver. Moreover, God called humans to imitate and join him in these things. After he planted a garden in Eden and gave them everything to enjoy, he commissioned man and woman to live as his representatives, ruling the earth as the image of God in their harvesting of grain, bearing of children, and general care for the earth and its creatures.
When Adam and Eve rebelled, sin entered the world and brought a curse. Nevertheless, this commission did not end. Getting bread and bearing children would be full of pain and difficulty, but the calling to this work remains.
In our salvation, Jesus Christ came to bear that curse, to die beneath God’s wrath and rise from the dead, in order to make all things new. This “all things” includes the task of ruling the earth, which we will do with King Jesus in a New Heavens and New Earth, in the Garden City he is cultivating and building, a New Jerusalem.
As we await that blessed hope, our present lives and work are not without value. In fact, we do all things—whether we eat or drink or whatever we do—for the glory of God in Christ. In the mundane moments of life—planting a field, changing a diaper, drafting a contract, managing employees, serving customers, building houses—we image forth our Maker and our Redeemer, showing the world what He is like and how he rules creation.
Your work matters to God. The way you do it shows the world what God is like. David and I hope this song encourages you to do whatever it is God calls you to do not simply as a means of income but as an act of worship.
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