Editorial: Are you gripped by a sense of righteous vocation?

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“A person gripped by a sense of righteous vocation is dangerous to a society that sacrifices obligations to others on the altars of power, profit or autonomy.”*

What a loaded statement! I wish I’d come up with it.

To be gripped by a call from beyond yourself

Are you a person gripped?

Gripped by a sense of vocation?

A sense of righteous vocation?

Are you willing to be considered dangerous to a society at odds with your calling?

Are you so gripped by God’s call on your life that you are willing to be considered a danger to a society consumed with money, power and status? Are you willing to be targeted by people who will not tolerate threats to their position?

Jesus was.

To be obligated to others out of duty to the call

Are you a person obligated?

Obligated to a call?

A call to sacrifice for others?

Are you willing to give up your comfort for the best interests of others?

Are you so gripped by God’s call on your life that you are willing to forego the security promised by power, profit and autonomy? Are you willing to give up everything so the kingdom of heaven may be present for the uncomfortable?

Jesus was.

To oppose the forces of this world in service of the call

Are you a person made courageous?

Made courageous by the Spirit of God?

Made courageous to stand against the forces of this world?

Are you willing to be misunderstood and to suffer because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world?

Are you so gripped by God’s call on your life that you are willing to live at odds with the systems of this world and so be considered a fool? Are you willing to be mocked and despised, rejected and outcast?

Jesus was.

Oh, that we may be gripped enough to be like Jesus.

*******

The Danish philosopher and committed Christian, Søren Kierkegaard, wrote in Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing and Works of Love that a person who desires “the Good”—the things of God—with a singular focus is one who is willing to suffer for the Good and is willing to be misunderstood by the world for the sake of the Good.

Lest his readers become overwhelmed with the prospect of so much suffering, Kierkegaard reminded them and reminds us that the way of Christ is not all suffering. Through the suffering and at the end of suffering there is the joy and life of eternity.

This is the story of the gospel of Christ. Christ came to suffer and die so we may know the joy and life of eternity. Christ gave up all the privileges of his heavenly position and took on the troubles of this life, exempting himself from none of it, so the kingdom of heaven would be present here and God’s will in heaven would be done on earth.

I pray we will become so gripped by God’s righteous vocation that we cannot help but give up our self-interest in order to live as Christ in this life, opposing the forces of this world in the name of Christ so all may know the joy and life of eternity.

* D.L. Mayfield wrote the quoted statement in her review of Maxwell King’s biography of Fred Rogers titled The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers printed in the Oct. 2018 issue of Christianity Today.

Eric Black is the executive director, publisher and editor of the Baptist Standard and a former pastor. He can be reached at eric.black@baptiststandard.com or on Twitter at @EricBlackBSP.

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