Witness & Vocation
Gods redemptive purposes extend far beyond the salvation of individual souls.
Pauls epistle to the Ephesians reminds us that God has "made known to us the
mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put
into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment--to bring all things in
heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ (1:9-10), Likewise, Paul tells us
that this cosmic salvation is with Christ the Logos as the head of the church: "God
placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the
church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way"
(1:22-23). All things means just
thatall things. There is no area of life and culture that does not belong under the
reforming lordship of Christ.
In a world like ours, rift with cultural genocide, racial hatred, class divisions, and
sexual abuse, what can we confidently hope for? And in what do we hope? Christianity holds
out the promise of a better future, a time where perfect personal and social harmony and
justice are carried out under the benevolent oversight of our Heavenly Father. It teaches
that the eschaton, or the end of all things, is fulfilled in Christ's kingdom, in
the perfect peace, or better said, the perfect shalom of God. It prophesies that
our present disruption and decay will be revitalized by the work of the Spirit into
complete newness. Furthermore, Christ has set up his church as an (albeit fallible)
testimony to that future harmony and perfection. He has begun in us now what will be
completely revealed only in the New Heaven and New Earth. We
exist in between-time, between the creation and corruption of the universe and the
eventual restoration of all things. That which had begun suitable, harmonious, and
integrated will again be so. We should bear in mind the expansive borders of this. It is
comprehensive. Every area of life is Christ's and will finally succeed in its purpose only
in Christ. His peace, his shalom, will bring us again to all the universe was
intended to be.
We who exist in this between-time must orient all our lives towards that future
promise. All things in our work and play must again be suitable, harmonious, and
integrated. The goal is lofty -- the complete sanctification of our minds, words, deeds,
and communities. We cannot do this alone; rather, we are to work out the craft of our
language within that divine fellowship, which he has chosen to model the vivid life that
God will return to his world. The church, the people of God, are to overflow with these
pleasant, enriching, loving words, for in speaking and singing, we enact Christ's shalom.
Tragically, we too often fall short of this state, but when we do live up to it, we
experience a foretaste of what a restored creation will be in full.
Frederick Buechner has noted that "the place God calls you to is where your deep
gladness and the world's deep hunger meet" (119). Each of us has to consider how our
lifes work impacts the kingdom purposes of God. A vocation is a God-given calling
lived out in conjunction with Gods grand purposes for his world and within the
churchs particular role as a sign or firstfruits of Christs kingdom in the
world. For Christians, the task of making our words true, good, and beautiful is an act of
faith and hope that God will make all things new. And it is a task carried out as witness
in our larger world. What, then, is the purpose or calling of the poet, and how should
Christians be poets? There are several models worth considering, each of which has
something to teach.
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