Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Plantinga: Vocation

Plantinga puts it this way: We have a kingdom and this kingdom is within other larger kingdoms, and all these kingdoms are within this major kingdom, which is God’s. Everyone is part of this gigantic kingdom where God is the supreme ruler. As each one has its own kingdom to rule, each one has to take “responsible dominion” for it and share it. By sharing it, the kingdoms overlap and intersect each other and it becomes one. Becoming one is what’s called “communion”.

To achieve communion, every person in each kingdom must become prime citizens of God’s kingdom. A prime citizen is active in the church, is a follower of Jesus (who represents God’s kingdom), “strives first for the kingdom”, yearns and fights for shalom and is a good giver and humble receiver. I add to all this that a true prime citizen loves God with all his heart, soul and strength (Deutronomy 6:5) and that’s why it wants the Kingdom to come: to be with God.

A prime citizen of God’s kingdom also has a vocation. Vocation is the calling of God, a mission of reform that makes a difference in the world, no matter how little. But when people try to accomplish the mission, they tend to either become proud or just despair and give up. Everyone is born for a vocation that is naturally suited for him or her, and everyone has a different vocation. I believe that the relationship God offers us is social but also especially personal. Lewis writes in “Learning in war” that “We are members of one body, but differentiated members, each with his own vocation.” God gives each person a joyful talent for this vocation, and each person must shape their talents so they grow to serve the Kingdom and not for one’s own selfishness.

Many times I have wondered, what’s my vocation? What’s my mission? Since young I would ponder impatiently and worry, what does God want me to do or be? I still feel this question unanswered, however I came to learn from my mother that all vocations are like stars; stars that shine ever so brightly, that are a light to the world. Sometimes these stars are covered by night clouds, but nevertheless, they still are there, and they will be revealed by God when the time is ripe. Mine has simply not come yet.

But one must be ready to follow the star once it shows itself, thus one must prepare oneself. One of the essentials is education. Plantinga describes Calvin College as an education center that has a “redemptive purpose” and that prepares students for their true vocation, which is in general, becoming prime citizens of God. Seeing prelude, DCM, chapel, and others, I would agree with this statement. However, I think redemption is not something that can be forced. Maybe these activities can influence a person into becoming a prime citizen of God, but it is up to the person itself to decide if it’s going to imprint all these teachings in its heart and truly prepare itself to become part of God’s kingdom.

There are different parts in Calvin education though. One of them is knowledge. It helps to “indentify and address human need” and it contributes to forming a Christian worldview. The second mentioned is skill. It’s the practice of knowledge, which objective should not be to impress but to serve. And finally, Virtue: diligence, patience, charity, stewardship, all the fruits of the spirit, etc.

The formula of a well rounded (or educated) student for Plantinga then would be something like this:

Knowledge + skills + virtues to pursue God’s call.

However, for me the proper formula is this:

(Knowledge + skills + virtues to pursue God’s call) *prayer

Though I don’t think there will ever be a person who will come to posses all these fine qualities completely (for then it wouldn’t be human), I think that one can get close enough if one tries hard, prays for blessing, and God grants it. After all, “Man proposes, God disposes” (Thomas a Kempis).

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