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July 4, 2012

FOURTH OF JULY THEOLOGICAL MUSING – A “RELAXED” VOCATIONAL CALLING

by profbartling1

How approach my role as American citizen on national Independence Day?  Often  we may become distracted from our vocation as citizen in context of political divisiveness and pressing economic and social issues.  How place my calling as citizen in a more liberating and “relaxed”  context to celebrate more fully that citizenship?  That depends,  in my view, on the spiritual underpinnings of one’s  understanding of the role and responsibility of citizenship.  As a young student I was importantly influenced by a small translated tract by a Swedish theologian Einar Billing (date 1947).  The tract  OUR CALLING is a statement of the relationship of Christian faith and Christian living. Billing’s study treats Luther’s concept of CALLING , or in contemporary terms, VOCATION.  At the heart lies the  theological  concept of motivation for meaningful vocation  resting in assurance of the forgiveness of sins. Quotes from Billing:  “Whoever knows Luther, even but partially, knows that his various thoughts do not lie alongside each other, like the pearls on a string . . . but that all,  as tightly as the pedals of a rosebud, adhere to a common center, and radiate like the rays of the sun from one glowing chord, namely, the gospel of the forgiveness of sins.” (p. 7)  When my vocation(s) as citizen become burdensome, or I am pulled away and distracted from my vocation as citizen what may be done? Here we may RELAX.  Billing continues:  “For never does the inner life grow more quickly then when we forget everything else and stand in awe of the richness of God’s unmerited grace. Then it is as spring, when the ice melts and winter chill disappears; then God is creating within us.  Gratitude is life’s midsummer sun. The whole process of sanctification (my  vocation and calling as citizen – my aside) between those two poles, the forgiveness of sins, which continually restores us  to our calling (vocation as citizen  – my aside)which continually refers us to the forgiveness of sins.” (p. 38)  In a sense I ought never become “relaxed” in quest for meaningfully lived citizenship even though often pulled away or distracted.  But yet fully RELAXED with regard to my status  as a forgiven child of God motivated anew to serve my vocation(s) and calling as a citizen.  Certainly we strive to be the best we can be in living out our citizenship roles.  But always assured that underneath we are upheld by the forgiving arms of God.

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