The Lure of the Fragmented Life

We all have a tendency to live fragmented lives, and a central part of this is because we do not look to the place where all true integration happens, and that is to the Lord Jesus. But part of the reason we don’t do this is because we foolishly believe that fragmentation makes us easier for us to hide things. One life, whole and entire, is just out there. But busted up into little pieces, it becomes possible for us to persuade ourselves that this little piece “belongs to me.” This is antithetical to true discipleship.

One of the great recoveries of the Protestant Reformation – and there were many – was the recovery of the idea of vocation or calling in all lawful professions. Whether you are a dentist, a lawyer, a dairyman, a soldier, a homemaker, or a contractor, God has called you to that place (Eph. 2:10). Now there are ways for sinful men to take this teaching and try to distort it, of course. But understood rightly, this is a glorious attempt to recognize the Lordship of Christ everywhere, on every day of the week, and not just in your personal devotions or in your church time. If you are only called to explicit discipleship when you are explicitly in church, this cedes the rest of your week to the realm of the devil. But why should we want him to have it?

Our tendency is to try to create “reservations for Jesus,” where He shows up in appointed places and at appointed times. But look closely at what that does. Even if you make large donations of time, or money, if it is less than 100 percent, you are not doing what the greatest commandment requires of us. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. This requires that we be disciples of Jesus in our accounting, in our carpentry, in our work as a student. There is no neutrality anywhere.

The doctrine of vocation does not mean that you get to be a workaholic at the office instead of worshiping God, or visiting widow and orphans, or leading your family spiritually. It means that everything that God has given to you must be offered back to Him as an integrated whole. And it means that He delights to receive such offerings.

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JonathanAndrew KellyValerie (Kyriosity)MelodyNicholas J. Gausling Recent comment authors

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Nicholas J. Gausling
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I recently found some old posts by Gary North that had to do with vocation and calling, and mentioned them on my own blog earlier this month: http://fivesolasreformation.com/2013/06/05/iron-sharpens-iron-learning-old-teachers-discerning-flaws-understanding-calling-casting-off-idols/

Integrating all of life under Christ’s Lordship is key. Many Christians today, even Reformed Christians, don’t think about this goal enough. But for those of us who believe that the Great Commission will ultimately be a success, it ought to be clear that this doctrine needs to be revitalized in contemporary teaching and preaching.

Jonathan
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Jonathan

I strongly agree with the general idea here. It blows my mind when people think they can only give part of themselves to God, that dropping 10% of the money in the church treasury means they can spend the rest of it on a huge house and multiple cars, or that spending 5% of their time in Christian ministry means they can pursue whatever money-making business they want in order to become personally wealthy. I’m not sure about this line though: “Whether you are a dentist, a lawyer, a dairyman, a soldier, a homemaker, or a contractor, God has called… Read more »

melody
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melody

Jonathan, what do you do for a profession, i.e. to earn a living?

Jonathan
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Jonathan

I serve in a Christian ministry among the poor in a slum.

kyriosity
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Jonathan, if God has called you to serve in a Christian ministry in a slum, rejoice in your calling and do your job. If your brother is tithing and owns a big house and multiple cars, rejoice in your calling and do your job. Another way of saying “rejoice in your calling and do your job” is “mind your own business.” Be concerned to do the good works that you were created to do, and don’t try to second-guess a) what God has called your brother to do (you can’t possibly know that) or b) how well he is stewarding… Read more »

Andrew Kelly
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Andrew Kelly

Jonathan, if everyone quit their jobs, who would fund the work you’re doing?

Paul understood the principles Valerie speaks of. In 1 Cor. 7 he understood quite well that even though he was called to a life of singleness, others were not. He did not give into the temptation to elevate his calling above everyone else’s.

Jonathan
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Jonathan

I have absolutely no doubt in God’s ability to fund the work I’m doing regardless of whatever other people are doing. I don’t need other people to disobey God’s calling to keep my work going. I haven’t said specifically what other people should be doing. I definitely didn’t compare it to my own profession, which would have stayed out of the question if someone else hadn’t asked. But I think it’s ridiculous to say that we speak God’s wisdom into so many other aspects of people’s lives, and not their choice of jobs. Jesus CLEARLY calls some people to quit… Read more »