A simple search on Amazon for books on “life’s purpose” results in 205,493 entries. That’s over 200 THOUSAND books written to help readers discover or learn how to live into, their purpose in life. Clearly, this is a hot market.
But I’m not surprised, really. I mean, I have often pondered (and still do) about the purpose of my life. Don’t you? What are we really here for? What is my purpose in life? Most of the time this question centers on vocation. Is this job my calling? Am I meant to have professional employment or is being a full-time parent my true vocation? We all grapple with this deeply important question; it seems to gnaw at our souls and drive us into a deeper reflection on our existential reality.
Sometimes, people find their purpose early. I recently participated in the Call Committee for a new pastor at my church, and I was amazed at these candidates who claimed they confidently knew their calling by the age of 17. 17? At 17, my biggest existential dilemma was whether to wear a Motley Crue or a Poison t-shirt to school that day. What can one truly know that early in one’s life? Alas, the Lord works in mysterious ways…
But this morning I was sitting on the porch with a cup of tea (instead of coffee, because I’m a recent convert to the PBS show, “Downton Abbey”; drinking tea makes me feel smarter and more sophisticated). I was meditating on and reading the Book of Romans (the wisdom of this letter is for another day. I truly love it) when a passage leapt out at me: “Likewise, my brothers*, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God” (emphasis mine) Romans 7: 4 (ESV).
And so, for Christians, there it was. So easy. So succinct and simple– “in order that we may bear fruit for God”. Paul tells us that this is our purpose! Whatever form it takes vocationally, whatever “flavor”, bearing fruit for God is our purpose. And what is that fruit, exactly? So as long as we are loving one another, caring for the poor and needy, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, we are bearing the fruit for God.
So release yourself from the anxiety that often comes with seeking your purpose because, as faithful servants, our purpose is already provided for us–to bear fruit for God. I close with a verse from Colossians, which I keep taped to my work phone: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (3:23). Go forth, friends, and bear fruit for God- the Spirit will lead you to the specifics; your conscience will guide you. Amen.
*or brothers and sisters