As noted in my last post, I am going to try to work through the ten conversation questions that Wheatley poses beginning with the first, and also the most vexing of her questions. The rest, while excellent and thorough questions, each seem far more straightforward than this initial one. Do I feel a vocation to be fully human? While Wheatley wrote her own thoughts about this question, I want to write my own thoughts about what the question means before I consider what she writes about it.
First what does it mean to have a vocation? Various definitions are:
- the particular occupation for which you are trained (ref)
- From the latin for “calling”
- A strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation
For me, when I consider the word “vocation,” I think of it as the ways in which we are each living out our calling in the world. As a Christian, my calling is to be a disciple living out my faith in deeds and in word in the world. My vocation in which I live out that calling is as a pastor of a congregation. For someone else, it could be a similar calling, but a very different vocation. We are each still living out our respective callings, but living it out in a different way through our vocations. The key point for me in vocation is choice. We have no choice in the callings that we receive. We do have choice in how we live it out and whether we live it in what we do.
Staying with definitions at this point, the second part of the question is “fully human.” This one is a good bit trickier. Standard definitions generally focus on the scientific meaning of the word – one of the human race and so forth. So, I have to move in a different direction. Again, as a Christian, I go to my faith experience and the words early in Genesis of humankind being created in God’s image, male and female created in God’s image. Further, Jesus’ words about the way for people to live is two-fold – Love God and Love Neighbor. Finally, the first question of the Westminster Catechism hints at this topic when it asks, “What is the chief end of man?” Answer: To glorify God and enjoy God forever.
So using these definitions, the question for me comes down to the matter of choice. Do I feel a vocation to be fully human? Do I make a choice to live out my humanity? For me as a Christian, do choose to love God and love neighbor, knowing that my chief end is to glorify the God who created all human beings in God’s own image? While traditional Calvinism might have issue with making too much of the concept of choice as I have used it here, I do very much resonate with the concept that we are people who, left to our own devices, have a strong tendency to go in directions other than is beneficial for the common good. It takes a choice to be altruistic. It takes a choice to be giving. It takes a choice.
In sum, I think it takes a choice to be fully human. I think it takes a choice to see being fully human as a vocation for us. We all live, breathe, eat, sleep, etc, but we take the choice to go another step and live out our human-ness in deed and in word in our lives.
What about for you? How do you feel about this question? What does vocation mean to you? What about “fully human”?