In a world overwhelmingly shattered by brokenness, we are called to bring redemption. This is the biblically-defined starting block that sets us up perfectly to begin our race, our calling. But where do we go? “Bringing redemption” is a little broad in scope, not to mention a bit daunting!
Earlier in this series, we sought to answer the first question of calling: “Where do we start?” What we found is that our calling is grounded in Christ’s work throughout history to reconcile all things to himself as he redeems the world.
In part two of this series, the question changes to “Where do we go?”
A number of years ago my eldest daughter asked me to train and compete in triathlons with her. While honored, I was largely uninformed about what I was getting into.
Typically, when I think of a race, I think of an oval track with distance markers. Running on an oval track is easy – you know where to start and where to go. Not so for triathlons. Triathlons require buoys in the water and race directors along the road, and without them you would not be able to run the race. Race directors are essential.
For Christians, our race directors are found in Scripture. One director is found at the end of creation and the other at the end of the gospel.
Our first directions are found at the end of creation in Genesis 1:28-31. We join the narrative after God makes man and woman in his image. It is at this point that he gives them their directions, their callings. Each of these directions is very different from the other, but they all share a common thread in that they tell the gospel story.
There are several key callings that we see in the directions found in Genesis.
Two Become One (Genesis 2:23-25)
It is all about intimacy. When my wife was diagnosed with cancer, we walked through some very heavy and uncertain days, but were blessed to feel the presence of Christ in our midst.
As we entered that season, I sensed that part of his work in us was to deepen our intimacy to such an extent that we wouldn’t be sure where I stopped and she began. That is two becoming one. That is welded.
God called the man and the woman to be husband and wife. In Genesis 2:23-25, God gives us a picture of marriage that goes far beyond saying, “Yes to the dress.” He calls for two to become one. This short phrase is a beautiful description of intimacy.
The power and beauty of two becoming one is well illustrated by the process of welding that occurs when two separate pieces of metal are heated to their melting point. As the two pieces liquefy, they mingle together and then cool into a single piece. The biblical language is two becoming one.
When a man and woman become one in marriage, they reflect the nature of Christ (the groom) and the church (the bride) to the world around them. Becoming one tells a gospel story. While not every person is called to marriage, those who are have been called to live a “two becoming one” kind of life.
Whether married or single, all of us are called to healthy relationships and those relationships should tell a gospel story.
To Fill the Earth (Genesis 1:28)
It is all about discipleship. Our second calling is to multiply and fill the earth. It is important to note that filling the earth is not simply a population issue. Instead, it is primarily one of discipleship. Populating the earth by having children does not negate our responsibility to invest in the lives of the people outside of our homes.
The starting blocks give us direction – our lives are to be lived for the purpose of redemption. But in order to have an impact that doesn’t die with us, our reach must extend into the generations ahead. This involves raising children in such a way that they hear the gospel and see it lived out in their families. In this, their hearts are cultivated and prepared for God’s work in their lives and in generations to come.
While Scripture calls us to shepherd our families, it also calls us to consider the needs of the church and the unbelieving world. Similarly, the lack of children does not negate the calling to fill the earth with a godly legacy. Those who do not have children still have many opportunities to pour themselves into the lives of others, whether through family members, sports, school, tutoring, church, etc.
When we fill the earth with a godly heritage by investing in the lives of others, we reflect the nature of Christ to his disciples. Filling the earth with a godly heritage tells a gospel story.
To Have Dominion (Genesis 1:26)
It is all about stewardship. Our third calling is to have dominion. In this passage, God calls us to be stewards over the earth, the sea, the heavens, and all that is in them. Another way to say it is that we are called to bring about flourishing in every corner of culture and creation.
The command to become one is about how we live out our marriages. The command to fill the earth is about how we are to pour our lives into those who are closest to us. The command to have dominion is about how we live out our vocations.
This final command calls us to see our work as more than a way to generate income, more than a way to provide for our families, more than a way to fund ministries, more than a way to prepare for retirement. Having dominion implies that we manage creation in such a way as to bring health and healing to a world in need.
I have spent years in the world of business insurance and find that there are two ways to view the industry: transactionally or redemptively. When faced with high losses, the transactional viewpoint drives the insurance professional to see a financial indicator that points to a financial solution. Here is the transactional thought process: my losses are too high, we have to reduce our claims cost or we are going to continue losing money.
The redemptive response, on the other hand, sees a financial indicator, recognizes it points to a greater problem, and seeks to solve that problem. Here is the redemptive thought process: my losses are too high, that means people are getting hurt or losing the things they value deeply. We have to help them in their time of need. We have to prevent more people from suffering like this in the future. Once we do that, our financial problems will resolve on their own.
Having dominion means that we move away from pursuing our own interests and towards pursuing the redemptive work of Christ. I am not sure how having dominion applies to your unique vocation, but I am convinced that God can transform the way in which you see your work and its significance.
When we have dominion over creation, we reflect the nature of Christ by caring for all that we have been given. We become like the wise stewards of Matthew 25:14-30.
Whether we are living out “two becoming one”, “filling the earth”, or “having dominion” we are telling a single gospel story. That story is best told when all three parts come together.
So, where do we go? We go to tell a gospel story.
Copyright © Mark Dawson 2016