Monday, August 6, 2012

Sanctification vs. Vocation

I will admit it - I get tired when people talk about "sanctification".  I just do.  Not that I'm tired of sanctification, not that I disdain holiness... I just... tire of the talk about it.  Why?  Because I've come to expect the bait and switch.  I've come to expect the whole "a REAL Christian wouldn't _______" -- wouldn't smoke, wouldn't drink, wouldn't dance, wouldn't watch that show, wouldn't vote that way, wouldn't hold his hands that way... on and on the blank gets filled with commands about abstract behavior, most only tangentially touching upon the Scriptures.  "Sanctification" can too easily become the realm of self created piety - of self made hoops one easily steps through to show oneself to be a better "Christian" than others.  After all -- see how far you've grown in your sanctification -- you used to smoke, but now you don't, oh, what a good Christian are you!

That bores me at best and annoys me much more often.  Let's talk about vocation - let's talk about living out the tasks God Himself has set us to.  Consider the Small Catechism on Confession:

What sins should we confess?
Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even of those which we do not know, as we do in the Lord's Prayer. But before the confessor we should confess those sins alone which we know and feel in our hearts.
Which are these?
Here consider your station according to the Ten Commandments, whether you are a father, mother, son, daughter, master, mistress, a man-servant or maid-servant; whether you have been disobedient, unfaithful, slothful; whether you have grieved any one by words or deeds; whether you have stolen, neglected, or wasted aught, or done other injury.

See where we are taught to look?  To our vocations... to how we handle our neighbor.  Or consider the table of duties... all tied to vocation.  These end up being concrete ways of service, ways of service given me by God.  He has made me holy by His Spirit and He has made me a husband, a father, a son, a pastor, a neighbor, a citizen, etc. -- let that Holiness that God has given me be shown in these tasks, not by some man made litmus test of what a good Christian "looks" like.

Show me your sanctification by telling me what you don't do, and I will live the Sanctification God has worked in me through the vocations he has placed me in.


Myrtle said...

Sometimes, it seems as if I am reading a different version of the Christian Book of Concord than everyone else. SIGH.

The thing about all the sanctification talk I do NOT understand is that our doctrine is pretty darn clear that the Holy Spirit is the one who sanctifies, not us. It is HIS WORK, not ours, accomplished through the faith given to us through the Sacraments and the active, creative Living Word. I could populate your comment space with a bunch of BOC quotes, but sometimes I wonder if it is no longer worth the bother. It is as if people go blind when anything comes up about sanctification being the work of the Holy Spirit or the actual power of the Living Word.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...


If people didn't think that they could some how take credit for their sanctification, they'd have no interest in talking about it... just as so view people have any interest in actually serving the neighbor without acquiring fame, glory, or power.

The Old Adam wants praise.