Why go to church? Why go to work?
These are big questions. I’m no longer a pastor. I’m now a first year law student. The doctrine of vocation has become the subject of much study and interest for me in the last two years. This morning I read an article by John T. Pless titled, “Vocation: Fruit of the Liturgy” in which he wrote:
In one’s vocation there is a cross…. The cross of one’s vocation drives the baptized back to Christ as he enlivens us with his body and blood…. The Christian life go[es] on between the two poles of the forgiveness of sins and our calling….
God’s holy people live an embattled existence in their various callings in the world. They are ever in need of comfort and refreshment. Therefore the royal priesthood is constantly drawn back to the Divine Service to receive forgiveness of sins over and over again until the day when our baptism will be completed in the resurrection of the body and our earthly callings will be fulfilled in the eternal sabbath of the heavenly kingdom.
If you can’t tell from the above quotation, I’m also a Lutheran now. Lutherans seem to think differently than the rest of American evangelicalism about why we go to church. In Lutheran liturgy lingo, the “Divine Service” is all about God serving us. We come to church to receive grace through sermon and sacrament.
Faith is receiving and love is giving. We come to church to receive by faith, and then we go out into the world to love our neighbor through our vocation. Our vocation is not to build the church. That’s God’s job. Our vocation is more than just what we do for a paycheck. Our vocation includes being a parent, or a spouse, or a son or daughter, or a neighbor, or a citizen. Luther didn’t do away with the idea of sacrifice, he just took it out of the mass and sent it out into the world. Luther was missional before missional was cool.