Christian callings in a Post-Christian world has a section written by Howard Thurman titled, What Shall I do with My Life? This blog aims to talk about Thurman’s ideas that he wrote in this section and what it means for everybody and especially for Christians. Thurman was raised by his grandmother and lived a life full of poverty. He served as a pastor for many years and was deeply committed to the idea of non-violence, which was especially critical because he was an African American living through segregation and later the Civil Rights Movement. This section of the book comes from a sermon that Thurman had given based on Matthew 4:1-11 where the devil chose to tempt Jesus three times, and Jesus refused every time doing what was right. The first temptation came when Jesus was hungry and the devil tempted him with bread; Jesus came to the conclusion that man cannot live on bread alone and shut the devil down. The second temptation came when the tempter suggested that Jesus go to the pinnacle of the temple, cast himself down, and he would not be hurt because of God. Jesus replies, “If I cast myself down, I will break my neck!” The conclusion from this temptation was that nobody can disregard the ordinary processes of life and hope or a miracle. The last temptation occurred when the devil brought Jesus to high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms and declared that he would give them all to Jesus if Jesus would bow down and worship him. Jesus replied by saying that God is the all-powerful ruler and that he is the only one who controls relationships between mankind. Throughout the entire sermon, Thurman continued to raise the question, what shall I do with my life?
Thurman, coming from the background that he had thus far in his life, wrote this as a way to add his perspective on non-violence and peace. This can be seen by his use of the Bible, “And again he said, rejoice when men persecute you for my sake, for it means that you are making inroads on territory that is foreign to the will of God” (Callings, 388). It is important to stand up for what one believes in and this can be seen in Thurman as he aided in the civil rights movement. It can also be interpreted that Thurman enjoys this piece from Matthew, as it helps people to understand what their own calling is. People’s callings are to purify one’s hearts and build relationships between good men that can function to the glory of God.
From my understanding, when Jesus talks to his disciples, he is saying that you should be glad in doing what is right even if others don’t see it the same way that you do. My personal story that goes along with what Jesus stated occurred when I was in high school. I had been on the Northeastern LYO(Lutheran Youth Organization) board for over three years, and every year we have the senior high youth gathering on the first weekend of March. The problem arose when my basketball coach randomly scheduled a game over the weekend which conflicted with LYO, something that I truly loved to be apart of. I politely told the coach that I would not be at the game because this event had been on my calendar far longer than this basketball game. All the coaches did not see it the way that I was seeing it, and I was punished with minimal playing time in the game after I had gotten back from the weekend. My point is that I not once regret the decision that I had made; basketball was something that I did for fun in high school, but my life in faith was going to last an eternity. All in all, I looked to the Bible when I was struggling with my decision and the way that Jesus puts it in this verse in Matthew is perfect, especially because he knew what the disciples would have to endure when he was gone. We must all do what is right, because if we don’t, then we are just denying who we are.