Although the word, ‘covenant,’ is not spoken in Genesis 1-2, all the elements of a covenant are present – showing that God entered into a covenantal relationship with Adam and Eve. It was a covenant that God initiated. In response to this act of divine grace, Adam and Eve were to use their vocations, their skills, and their ingenuity for the sake of human flourishing. They were to serve collaboratively as vice-regents to make the underdeveloped world more livable.
Of course, an act of treason derailed this original task of Adam and Eve and disrupted the created order. However, as Christians who are in Christ and sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, we are to use our vocations, our skills, and our ingenuity for the common good, for the sake of human flourishing. Like our first parents, God has entered into a covenantal relationship with us, His redeemed people; a covenantal relationship that He initiated, ratified by the blood of His only son, Jesus Christ.
Our response? We must use our vocations for the common good in gratitude for God’s initiative to pursue us, to rescue us, and to adopt us into His royal family.
What does it look like to use our vocations for the common good?
Our vocations afford us certain influence or access not afforded to others, so we must use this influence to provide opportunities to others who normally don’t get a seat at the table. Just think of the alternative. The 2015 film Chi-Raq adapts the ancient Greek play Lysistrata and sets it in the midst of Chicago’s gang violence. The film mentions the phrase “underground economy” to refer to economic life outside the rule of law, the economy of illegal transactions. There is no doubt that such underground economies exist in our world – often with terrible impacts on the flourishing of society and on the common good.
How are we responsible?
If we, as God’s people, do not use our vocations for the common good, then we are tacitly endorsing these “underground economies” which operate “by any means necessary,” often with a total disregard for personal property or people made in God’s image. Our absence in some small way contributes to the conditions where such underground economies flourish.
Pope Francis eloquently reiterates this:
…until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples is reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence…When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programs (e.g., welfare) or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility (The Joy of the Gospel, pp. 50-51).
Violence, par for the course in underground economies, will continue to wreak havoc on our society if we do not use our vocations (and all the benefits our vocations afford) to usher in inclusion and equality.
How can we respond?
If our vocations are all used to their utmost, we can begin to “shut down” or hobble underground economies such as theft, prostitution (child and adult), pornography, illegal drug rings, human-trafficking, restrictive covenants, etc. By using our God-given vocations so that every human being flourishes, we actually participate in bringing the end of the story into the present.
How can my vocation be used to bless the common good?
Dr. Luke Bobo has experience in the corporate, educational, and not-for-profit worlds. He is the Director of Resource and Curriculum Development for Made to Flourish in Kansas City, MO.
Images: FreeImages.com/Ross Brown; IMDB