The God of All Vocations

College students often ask me what God thinks about their major (and future career). They wonder (in my words) if God’s too vested in ministry to care about biology, law, economics, literature, business, or architecture. It’s a great question, because many of them attended churches that dichotomized the world into two categories: sacred and secular. In this system, God cares about sacred jobs (pastors, missionaries, Biblical counselors, etcetera), but does not have much to say about secular vocations (artists, salesmen, accountants, architects).

This is not the Biblical view. We will find no passages dividing today’s vocational world into sacred and secular categories. The Bible says God made the world, and put the seeds of our culture in creation (Gen. 1). God declares culture and work (as parts of creation) as “good.”

Man’s first God-given job were developing a taxonomy for the animal kingdom and gardening. We might not put gardening in our human category of “sacred,” yet, “The Lord God took the man and put him the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15). Adam’s great commission was gardening for the glory of God.

It’s worth noting that Adam wasn’t technically the first gardener. God gardened Eden for Adam, “And the Lord God planed a garden in Eden” (Gen. 2:8). If “secular” jobs like gardening aren’t above God’s pay grade, then maybe we shouldn’t demean them as second tier careers below “sacred” jobs.

Gardening isn’t the only vocation God cares about. In Genesis 1:28 God commanded Adam and Eve to, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over … every living thing that moves on the earth.” Theologians call this “the cultural mandate,” because in it God commands mankind to spread order and shalom over the untamed earth. God wants all humans to actively order his creation, by drawing out all of its innate potential. That means developing culture.

We ought to develop human society so that we might mutually benefit one another. With responsibility we ought to use the earth’s natural resources to build buildings, tools, instruments and wealth that blesses everyone. We should use our creativity to create works of beauty and art, and our intellect to develop complex systems of trade and economics.

The seeds of every vocation were sown into creation by God. Sometimes that’s hard to see because we rebelled against God and all of creation was cursed. Work, which was created as a blessing, became a curse. We see this when humans use their capacity for creativity to harm one another. We feel it after a long week at the office.

Yet, our vocations, like all of creation still bear the marks of God’s good creation. In that vein, over the next few weeks I’m going to look briefly at what God has to say about several vocations, to answer the question (in a few small ways) so many students ask: “What does God think about my future job?” Next week I’ll look at architecture and design.

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