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It seems to me that, often times, the desire of Christians to understand their “calling” within the framework of a capitalist system is doomed from the outset. To affirm the social Darwinism necessary in any free market economy is to become an animal, surely not an option for a follower of Christ. But to simply ignore it – to deride it and speak as if it holds no sway – is foolish. Economic systems, especially ones as dominant and all-consuming as western capitalism, determine us more than we often care to know. Modernity demands one thing of its citizens: that they understand that their religious convictions are private matters, and that they belong outside of the public sphere. The fact/value distinction in modern philosophy requires that some things be indisputable facts (that which contributes to industry), and others be personal, emotion-laden values (religious belief, sports team affiliation, etc.). When Christians tacitly accept this utterly false dichotomy, they give in to the system of the powers-that-be. When we look to understand our “call”, it must be seen as contributing, in some way, to the polis, and not simply to something purely individual (vocation, marriage, grad school, etc.). This is why Paul always speaks of God’s calling as to something communal. Our calling is to live together, as the body of Christ, in harmony with one another (like Paul was calling the converted Jews and Gentiles to do), and in love towards the outside world.

Our ideas concerning “calling” need to focus less on detail on more on the macro level. It is easy to become overly concerned with providence, falling into a Greek fatalism. God doesn’t sit on His throne pulling all the strings. If Christ’s sacrifice teaches us anything, it should be that a proper vision of godly love is unreservedly gratuitous. God’s love is much more than necessary. Christ didn’t destroy the Romans, or become king of the world as the Jews expected. That would have left him alongside Alexander the Great or Leonidas as simply figures of history. Christ is so much more than that. Likewise, the glory we give to God through our work is wholly superfluous, completely unnecessary. It isn’t fated or determined, but originates in an overflow of love from our hearts in a response to God’s great gift – and a gift, by definition, is gratis – gratuitous.

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