Vocation, Vocation, Vocation
By Anthony Casperson
In tower defense video games you position certain units in specific places. Success largely relies upon locating the best unit in the optimal space for them.
You want strong defense to funnel enemies into the line of fire of strong attacking units. Longer ranged members of your team need to go further back, so that short-ranged individuals have the reach to attack at the same time. Many similar strategies exist depending on the specifics of the game.
However, the type of unit isn’t the only thing to consider. Power levels exist as well. The team member that was really good early in the game will eventually lose their effectiveness as the difficulty level rises. The player has to consider the pros and cons of whether a lower-leveled (but quicker to summon) unit can work when compared to the higher-tiered members.
Each unit has a purpose. For them to be best utilized, this purpose has to be learned so that the player can position the team member with the most balanced level of intensity. The design of one’s purpose is revealed when position and intensity are taken into mind.
The same is true of us spiritually. Where we are, both in position and intensity, reveals our purpose.
If we have our placement off, then we are no better than a lamp placed under a basket, as Matthew 5:15 tells us. The purpose of lamps is to bring light to the darkness. (As a side note, it’s interesting that here in Matthew, we followers of Jesus are called the light of the world, while in John’s gospel [which is where the sermon series I’m going through is currently], Jesus is called the Light of the world.)
The image of light as a beacon is also seen in the previous verse of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. There he says that a city on a hill can’t be hidden. It is an image of refuge for all who seek safety from the darkness of the world.
Cities bring refuge from the wilderness. Lamps light up a house. Their position reveals their purpose because if they were elsewhere, they wouldn’t have a reason for existing.
But placement isn’t the only part of revealing our purpose. The intensity, the level required from us, also points to our purpose. Jesus speaks of salt in Matthew 5:13, saying that if it loses its saltiness its good for nothing but to be trampled underfoot.
Because of the way people obtained salt in Jesus’ time, the mixture of salt to other substances could fool someone into using a less-than-salty concoction as their flavor enhancer. But such a substance would never have the concentration of flavor to fulfill the purpose for it. That concoction might have enough salt to keep plants from growing on a path where people walk, but not much else.
Later on in Matthew 5, Jesus gets a bit more practical in the aspect of the extent of intensity. He tells his audience that the tiniest loosening of grip on every single command of the Law, both in practice and teaching, leaves a person at the lowest end of the kingdom of heaven. As a matter of fact, unless their righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees, they can never enter it.
The kingdom that Jesus represents isn’t for the faint of heart. It calls for an intensity beyond even the most practiced of rules lawyers. The intensity, the level of concentration, reveals purpose because otherwise more is wasted than just the salt thrown to the ground.
It is indeed good news that Jesus’ sacrifice stands in place of our failures, but there is still a responsibility for us to fulfill the purpose God has for us. And this isn’t just the purpose in this world of pointing others to the righteousness of God. That’s universal, but I’m thinking in a more personal level.
The place where God has us, whether that be in our job, our community, our gathering of fellow followers of Jesus, it all points to the purpose God currently has for us. Whether we stand as a leader among others or at the bottom end of the totem pole, God has a purpose for us there.
We can have a lesson to learn, or one to teach. We might need to see an example of a future plan of God for us, or we might need to be that for someone else. Our life might not look like what we thought it should, but that doesn’t mean that God’s purpose for us is lost. We might just have a misunderstanding of his purpose for us at the moment. Where God has us shows us what he has planned for us right now.
God’s masterful plan has us where we are because he knows our purpose better than we do. And he knows exactly how to place each one of us for optimum effect.