July 2023 Column
Calling & Purpose
God given, not found.
Let me give you this “vegetarian” nugget of inspiration right away: you and I aren’t supposed to find our calling and purpose. The idea of “finding your calling and purpose” is extrabiblical. Think about it, God called Adam and Eve into existence and gave them a purpose (Gen 1-2). This pattern of calling someone into a role and giving them a purpose is everywhere in scripture if you look close enough. God called Noah to be a preacher and builder so humanity could survive the flood. Moses was called to be a leader to free the Children of Israel. Fast forward to the New Testament and Jesus is following the same tradition of calling and giving purpose. He finds his disciples and calls them into his service as fisher of men and gives them a purpose in Matthew 28. Let’s clarify before we move on- We are called into specific roles by God to accomplish a purpose. Now that we have adjusted our understanding of Calling & Purpose, we can ask a few questions: What do I do while I wait for God to show me my calling & purpose? How do I know God is calling me to something? Can I have multiple callings? Here is another “vegetarian” nugget of inspiration that will guide your discussion.We Shift into Our Calling & Purpose
In scripture we notice that before God called people into a role and gave them a purpose, they were engaged in something already. Let’s apply this idea to our text. Peter and Andrew were casting their nets when Jesus called them to be his disciples. The same pattern appears in verses 21-22 with James and John. They are in their boat with their father preparing their nets when they are called. It’s interesting because this pattern is found in the Old Testament as well. Elisha is plowing his field when Elijah called him into service and gave him a purpose (1 Kings 19-21). The point is, God intercepts us in our day-to-day life and gives us our calling and purpose. The mistake we tend to make is we become idle and wait for God to reveal our calling. The Bible makes it clear that we are supposed to be active and working towards something so that when we are called, we just shift into it because we are already in motion. Here’s another example of this in scripture that also helps expand on the idea above. Paul and Barnabas are forbidden to go into Turkey and Bithynia and end up in Macedonia to preach the Gospel (Acts 16:6-10). Note, Paul and Barnabas are travelling already and then the Holy Spirit gives them their destination. Here’s the interesting take away: They find out what God wanted them to do based on what God said no to. Basically, it was trial and error. Let me explain that. Paul tried to go to Turkey, but God said no. Then Paul tried to go to Bithynia, but God said no again. It’s only after two no’s that Paul realize his final destination. It’s uncomfortable to hear but Paul did not know God’s will until 1) he was willing to go without a knowing exactly where and 2) trust that the Holy Spirit would direct him by closing and opening doors. God is faithful to reveal our calling and purpose. However, you and I will never know how much God can bless until we try our best. “I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6