Called from Every Vocation
“So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God” (v. 24).- 1 Corinthians 7:17–24
In what vocation can I serve God? The answer to that question is quite simple, as the Reformers made clear: in any vocation that is not contrary to God’s law. As we have seen, the biblical teaching that believers form a royal priesthood means that we can offer spiritual worship and service to the Lord wherever He has called us (1 Peter 2:9). But lest we miss the point, today’s passage reinforces the idea that we are able to serve God in every station in life.
Paul is dealing in 1 Corinthians 7 with questions such as whether believers should be married or single, circumcised or uncircumcised, bondservant or freedman. Essentially, his point is that we should be content where we are and with what we have been called to, and not go out of our way to change it. In essence, this means that we can serve God truly in a wide variety of contexts and that we do not have to change our vocation to be faithful servants of the Lord as long as what we do does not go against the Word of God.
It is important to note that Paul does not say we can never change the status or calling we held when God called us. In fact, he tells bondservants that if they are able to gain their freedom, they should do so (1 Cor. 7:21). His point is not that no change is possible but that we should strive for contentment and not think that a change of vocation is required for true service to our Creator. As John Calvin comments, Paul “has it simply in view to correct that inconsiderate eagerness, which prompts some to change their condition without any proper reason, whether they do it from superstition, or from any other motive.”
Married or single, circumcised or uncircumcised, bondservant or freedman are all contexts wherein we can serve Christ. And we can extrapolate from this that all lawful vocations are legitimate. What is more, the fact that Paul addresses such a variety of people indicates that we should expect to see many different vocations represented in the church. God does not call only white-collar workers or blue-caller laborers to Christ; rather, He calls His people from across the vocational spectrum. We should therefore be eager to see our churches as places where many different vocations are represented. When that happens, the entire body is strengthened, for there are many different skills available with which we can serve one another. So, let us encourage one another to serve God faithfully wherever He has placed us.
Some people work their whole lives in one vocation, while others experience a change of call during their lifetimes. The important thing to remember is that wherever we labor, we can labor for the glory of God and the good of our neighbors. If you are discontent in your vocation, ask the Lord to show you how your work can be used for His glory and the good of others.
Passages for Further Study
1 Chronicles 22
1 Corinthians 12:4–7