Christians are free in Christ to not retreat from the world. In fact, it was a watershed moment for the monk, Martin Luther, when he rejected the old monastic ideal of transcending the world through spiritual exercises. Scripture revealed to Luther that one's Christian faith and earthly vocation is a gift. Both are works of the Holy Spirit wrought in the Christian.

Instead of cooperating with God's grace, a Christian is "a good tree that produces good fruit" through the work of the Holy Spirit. God comes to us to make us good through his word and Spirit. Apart from our obedience to the law and in Christ through faith, a Christian is productive in all of life, loving and serving our neighbors in selfless service because God is doing a new thing with sinful, selfish us. God is active and living, and he makes us, dead in sin, alive in Christ to preserve and enhance our lives.

So, from now on until the Last Day, Christians live a double life. There's a "me-life" and a "Christ-life." Whatever we were before the Holy Spirit created faith in us is dead. That life is gone forever. The new life that replaced it is a Christ-life, a life of faith in the One who redeems from my sinful selfish, this evil world and its ruler, Satan. This new life is marked not by fear of death but hope in eternal life.

What we do here while we await that eternal life of joy to come is freely serve each other. The free life of a Christian is the opposite of what the world imagines freedom to be, pursuing individual happiness at any cost. A truly free Christian becomes a servant of all just like a good tree that produces abundant fruit for everyone to enjoy. Both the tree (faith) and its fruit (love) are gifts freely given by God for all to enjoy.

God gives each of us vocations so that we're useful to others. That doesn't mean we let people exploit and abuse our charity. It means that despite our desire to dominate each other, God calls us into our vocations, into the real world, where people need us to help and support their well-being.

This means that when we go into the voting booth, we are voting for the candidate we think will serve in a way that best helps and supports the well-being of our neighbors. When we embrace our vocations, we do so in the hope that our work will help and support our neighbors' lives. When we worship, we go into our churches trusting that God will make us instruments of his grace and mercy so that our neighbor will be strengthened in true faith and stirred up to love their brothers and sisters in Christ for the good of all.

The Christian life isn't dedicated to transcending the world. It's a life lived in the shadow of the cross.

We are created and planted in the world by God to be fruit. Whether we're changing diapers, serving on the front line, harvesting wheat, responding to a car accident, or comforting a worried friend, that's what God wants us to do. In Christ, we're not set free to escape from our neighbor's needs; we're set free to fight tirelessly for our neighbor so that they may live and enjoy the fruits God's Spirit produces for their benefit.

The Christian life isn't dedicated to transcending the world. It's a life lived in the shadow of the cross, which is planted firmly in the real world. We live as dead sinners, yet alive in Christ through faith at the same time. We vote, work, and worship under the cross while the old world goes on rebelling against God's Christ and his will for our lives.

As Christians, we celebrate under the cross because we are simultaneously taken up into heaven through faith in Christ and plunged down into this world to selflessly serve our neighbors. In Christ, we are made lords of all people and servants of all people at the same time. Therefore, whether our political candidate, or our job, or our worship accomplishes the most or least good for others, we trust that God is with us in the muck of this selfish, evil world. He will make us useful for our neighbors. He will forgive our sins for Christ's sake. He will make us conquerors in Christ so that everyone gets to enjoy the fruit of his love for us in Christ Jesus.