Tonight, I was reading a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven, in which the Master hires workers throughout the day. He enlists some in the morning, comes back later and hires some more, and then returns still later to employ a third group of workers.
But I stopped at a verse before I’d reached the conclusion of the parable:
“And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
“They said to him, “Because no one has hired us…”Matt. 20:6-7
For me, verse 7 really pointed to the idea of purpose. The master’s question infers that the men should be working.
The workers’ answer that no one has hired them. Their response is not one of passivity, but an understanding that, ultimately, they are not in control of whether or not they get hired. The emphasis is not on the would-be employees, but on the employer.
The employer (or “master”) provides the men with a purpose, as well as paying them handsomely. They were supposed to be working (as the employer’s question implies) and he provided them a job.
I think about our original purpose in the Garden, how God deliberately chose to make mankind in His image, chose to walk with them in Eden. We, as people, find our purpose in God. God is not the conduit through which we discover our purpose. Rather, I believe that He, Himself is our purpose, “For in Him, we live, move and have our being,” (Acts 17:28, see also Rom. 11:36).
Throughout centuries of sin, the Old Testament is littered with references to God’s promise to dwell with His people. Then Jesus comes along, preaching the Kingdom of Heaven— the opportunity to draw near to the Lord in Spirit and truth.
But like the workers in the parable, we are not entirely in control of our “destiny.” Just as they had to be hired, we come to the Father only by the power and authority of His Son, not of our own volition, but as the ones that He draws.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:44
We cannot “hire” ourselves. We cannot save ourselves. But God sent His Son to die for our broken world, and He chooses to draw us into the purpose— that is, the Kingdom—for which He created us. He is, Himself, our purpose.
Our purpose is our calling, but I think that both of these words are used far too specifically. While I very strongly believe that God created us for specific purposes, with gifts that equip us for specific tasks, I think that calling and purpose are also much simpler than that.
The act of being called by God is an invitation into true purpose, which is simply to be in relationship with Him, like Enoch, who “walked with God…” He will surely bring us into the things for which He created us, but He Himself is our fulfillment, our purpose… our calling.