Foundations for a Christian Worldview: The Times (6)
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1.27, 28
Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. Genesis 2.15
The idea of calling
For any worldview to attract a following, it must provide persuasive answers to three questions: “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “What should I be doing?”
Since the 1950s, the secular worldview has offered a variety of options in response to those questions, but they all coalesce loosely around the following answers: “Who am I?” I am a higher form of animal, a strictly material product of chance, time, and matter. “Why am I here?” I am here to survive and to pass my genes on to the next generation. “What should I be doing?” Whatever it takes to survive and, if possible, be happy, before I die and return to the dust, which is the cosmic essence.
But even these answers are encased in a larger perspective on life and the cosmos which insists that no reason can be found for why we are here. Life and the cosmos have no ultimate meaning, except that which we impose on it, and that meaning is at all times susceptible to change. We cannot really know why we are here, or what we should be doing; and we cannot be certain that we or such questions as these will have any abiding relevance in the generations to come. We can only hope, struggle, and grope.
Simply put: According to the secular worldview, we cannot answer these questions convincingly, only hopefully. We hope that there is a reason for our being here, and something meaningful for us to do. We hope, but we cannot know. No voice comes to us from beyond space and time to indicate any true and eternal significance or purpose for our existence. As Camus saw so clearly, the secular worldview insists that we are all struggling against absurdity, pursuing absurd lives against ultimate oblivion, in an absurd and unyielding cosmos, where nothing makes any final sense.
Of course, people don’t live that way. They live as if their lives do matter, and as though they do have meaning and purpose. But most people are content to let the pacesetters of our secular agenda continue to trumpet their Sisyphean myth, and feel very brave about it, as long as they don’t unreasonably impede my personal quest for whatever I define as happiness.
They live, that is, more like people who understand and embrace the idea of divine calling, as that is revealed early on in the books of Moses.
The focus of calling
The idea of calling stems from the fact of creation. Deny creation, and you have no grounds for calling. Without creation, all that might be calling becomes merely struggle and groping for something to believe in.
But God created human beings and appointed them the task of filling the earth and having dominion over it. People were made to increase and rule in such a way as that the beauty, goodness, truth, righteousness, peace, and joy that the Three-in-One God knows within Himself might prevail throughout the creation, with ever-increasing glory.
People are called by God to do good, to work with their souls and bodies to bring forth good fruit for the benefit of their neighbors and the glory of God. Most people actually live this way in our secular world, and this is testimony to the fact of their being made in the divine image, the fact of their knowing (although they may deny) God, and the fact of God’s common and sustaining grace to all His creatures and the entire cosmos.
An infinite variety of specific callings is available to humankind. Each of these callings makes a contribution to the wellbeing of the creation and the glory of God. Callings can be discerned in a variety of ways – by upbringing, environment, opportunities, training, interests, and so forth. But only within the context of knowing God and submitting to His calling for humankind can any calling provide the kind of fruitfulness, fulfillment, satisfaction, benefit, and glory that God intends for every calling.
In these secular times, the notion of calling has been substituted with whatever occupation or approach to life seems most likely to satisfy the god of self and its concierge, the god of happiness. Calling comes not from any unchanging divine Word, or sense of divine grace and leading, but only from what brings most satisfaction and pleasure to the self.
The end of calling
The Biblical view of calling answers the three previous questions as follows: “Who am I?” I am the image-bearer of God. “Why am I here?” I am here to know, enjoy, serve, and honor my Creator. “What should I be doing?” I am working in every aspect of my life to realize my purpose for being, doing everything within my power, at every opportunity, for the glory of God and the wellbeing of my neighbor.
Such a view of calling makes all of life into a continual worship of God; for in all we do, we remember who we are as God’s image-bearers; we look to Him to help us define the parameters of our assignment in the garden of the world; and we work to bring out His goodness in all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities, and to guard everything within our purview against the corrosive and destructive influences of the lie.
All of life is calling, and every calling is significant, but only when we listen for the divine voice – God speaking to us from His Word – to direct our efforts toward realizing His goodness, and for His glory.
Questions for reflection
1. What does the idea of calling mean to you? How would you define your calling from the Lord?
2. Is it really possible for all of life to be a continuous act of worship (Rom. 12.1, 2)? Explain.
3. Do you think Christians should work harder at understanding the idea of calling? Do you think we’re more influenced by the teaching of Scripture in this matter, or by the temper of our times? Explain.
Next steps – Transformation: Meditate on the day ahead – all your relationships, roles, and responsibilities. Has God called you to these? To what end? How can you prepare to make the most of all these opportunities for knowing, enjoying, and serving God? Share your thoughts with a Christian friend.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.
- T.M. Moore
- July 13, 2019
Who we are and what we are to do come from God.
Foundations for a Christian Worldview: The Times (6)
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.