Reading Reflection:

Family Vocation, Gene Edward Veith Jr. & Mary J. Moerbe (Crossway, 2012) This is a great book explaining how the gospel interrupts the ordinary through family vocation. As an introduction to the doctrine of vocation, Veith and Moerbe explain the value of the physical. Sometimes we are tempted to feel like our ordinary tasks in loving and serving our neighbor are not as valuable as “spiritual work.” They explain:
Christians, too, can feel that their everyday lives have no meaning. They want to escape their mundane lives by means of transcendent spiritual experience. In 1 Corinthians 5, we see that believers can also imagine a disconnect between their daily lives and the faith they profess. They may try to justify immoral behavior as the movie star did, insisting that what they do in the body has no effect on their spiritual conditions. More common, though, is the notion that they have to do “spiritual things”—church work or Bible study or witnessing—in order to serve God, sometimes at the expense of their families. This devaluing of ordinary life can be so firmly rooted in our expectations that many Christians will except only extraordinary supernatural experiences as counting for their spiritual lives, while missing God’s presence in the ordinary and everyday. The doctrine of vocation, in contrast, brings the physical and the spiritual together, so that the spiritual reality becomes tangible. The ordinary doesn’t need to be a burden we yearn to escape when we learn to discern God’s presence in the everyday patterns of life. Physical reality, including our everyday tasks and callings, becomes transfigured with the presence of God (24).
In calling us to love and serve our neighbor through everyday tasks such as washing the dishes, disciplining a child, delivering the mail, preparing a client’s tax return, grading a paper, or driving a truck, God uses our vocations to bless others. Sure, it is not a salvific work of special grace, but it is a loving work of his glorious common grace. As Christians, we can do these things with joy and confidence out of gratitude for what Christ has done for us. Finally, I can serve my neighbor freely in love, without needing to strive to earn my own salvation through my good works. God will bless my efforts because they are in Christ. I have no manipulative intentions to earn heaven by my good works, just love that flows from Christ himself. In this book, Veith and Moerbe focus on the vocations of family—parenthood, husband, wife, sibling, grandparent, child, etc. They call family “the primary estate and the site of our most important earthly vocations. The family is God’s ongoing creation of humanity, the foundation of culture, and the image of our relationship with God on earth” (25). Well put. While I don’t think I agree with the authors that changing a diaper is holy work, I do agree that it is spiritually valuable. Just because something is a common work, that does not make it meaningless by any means. God intends for us mommies and daddies to love our babies through this humbling labor of love. Pick this book up for an encouraging read.