Not a sermon, but…vocation.

Okay, so, this isn’t a sermon, but…one of the treasures of the Evangelical Lutheran church is what we say about vocation.

Vocation isn’t necessarily your job or just your job.

Vocation is like a hat or a mask—if hats and masks are God-given responsibilities that you can’t shirk off with impunity or trade for one more desirable.

Take a look at this comic:

What absurd ignorance! But perhaps that’s the point—perhaps this is intended only as a bad example.

What does it actually show?

Each panel seems to show a mother educating her child on the absolute, life-ruining failure of…

Having a job? Providing for your family? Providing a much-needed service for your community without which everyone would notice within the hour?

Nope. That’s not it.

Mom just doesn’t want her kid to grow up to be the trash man.

How ridiculous it is to assume and assert that the trash man is to be pitied.

How arrogant it is to assume and assert that the one thing lacking in the trash man’s world is your effort after having studied well.

I’d rather my sons eke out a living, work hard, and earn their bread with their sweat (while going to church and raising a family).

I’d rather they not open their veins to obtain such folly.

I certainly don’t want them to think themselves above picking up trash.

Not to mention, “studying well” does not necessarily prepare you for life—let alone the life to come.

Studying what is good—what is meet, right, and salutary—on the other hand, will teach you how to abound and how to be brought low. Studying what is good will prepare you, come what may, for life.

And the life to come.

This comic is evil.

“He’s just a trash man.” That’s the thought that’s represented.

“She’s just a stay-at-home mom.” That gets said, too.

Comparing yourself to others ends with arrogance or despair. Either you will love yourself and hate the other (which is what’s going on here) or you will love the other and hate yourself (that’s what happens to the stay-at-home mom or the trash man who, in listening to the world, hates what is good and simple and faithful about works that don’t appear glorious).

This should not be!

Rather—thank God for all that you have. Live as He has called you to live. As God has provided for you, provide for those that God has given to you. As God, in Christ, has forgiven you your sins, forgive those who sin against you.

Your neighbor doesn’t have to lose for you to win. You can be successful—that is, faithful—even if and when your neighbor is apparently more so.

But the comic has one thing right. There are two types of men:

Jesus said, “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14).

I can’t read your heart, let alone the heart of a comic strip mom. But the trash man in the comic is the real MVP. He’s working hard, probably singing a tune learned from his dad, intentionally-wrong-words and all. He went down to his house justified, rather than the others.

“Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

If you’re the trash man, rejoice that God has chosen you for an often thankless job. Rejoice, too, that God didn’t spare His Son from the same.

And if you’re the mom, either of them. Get your house in order. Take out the trash.

There’s a guy for that.

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