By Dr. Kevin Thomas —
Next week, on October 31, we will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the church door at Wittenberg, Germany, and the church was forever changed. One of the many key components of the Reformation was the assertion of the Priesthood of All Believers. Luther believed that all Christians have callings, and each person’s vocation is meaningful—in fact, on par with ministerial callings.
Luther had at least two understandings of calling for Christians. The first was the “spiritual calling” or “spiritual vocation” which is the call on all people to become Christians and live holy lives (Schuurman 17, 26). “Spiritual vocation” in this sense reflects the most common New Testament understanding of call, but Luther also believed in an “external vocation” in which a person is called to be an engineer, a carpenter, a mechanic, or some other paid form of work. He extended this idea of external vocation into the family as well so that God calls a man to be the husband of a particular wife or a woman to be the wife of a particular husband. Vocation in this sense touches every area of life.
In The Estate of Marriage, Martin Luther reasons that even the most distasteful duties of parents are “adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels.” He continues to affirm the mother who rocks and suckles her child and the father who washes diapers are rendering service to God.
Luther’s claim is not that one can be a Christian while doing mundane tasks, but that the tasks themselves are an expression of devotion to God. Furthermore, he argues that those who would ridicule a man for washing diapers are actually ridiculing God.
Luther claims that people are incorporated into Christ through vocation. The commands of the Scriptures remain vague and general until one must apply them at home, at school, on the job, or during leisure. Within daily vocation the Christian is able to work out his or he f itself. Righteousness, for Luther, came only by faith (Schuurman).
Whatever you do this week, do all for the Lord!