When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest.’
Jesus said to him, '"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question:
‘What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?’
They said to him, ‘The son of David.’
He said to them, ‘How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies your feet’”? If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?’
No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.
- Matthew 22:34-46
I love it when people ask ‘So, Scott, what do you do?’ My answer either perplexes them or perplexes me.
I had business cards printed last year that tapped into this confusion. On one side, they describe my job as ‘Author/Blogger/Speaker’. On the other, they read ‘Unemployed/Of No Fixed Above’.
Both are true. If I live anywhere then I live at home in a small bedroom of my parents’ house at 31 years old which isn’t exactly ticking a box on my bucket list. And yet here I sit, writing a blog, in Costa Mesa, California, watching the leaves of palm trees flutter in the wind and wondering how in the world I got here.
Our culture constantly barrages us with questions about our calling, career, potential and significance.
‘Are you doing something meaningful?’
‘Is this your calling?’
‘Do you deserve better than this?’
‘Are you on the right path?’
‘Are you climbing the ladder?’
I want to write and speak for a living. These are the things that I believe God has gifted me at and opened doors for me to do. On my good days, that possibility feels right around the corner. On my bad days, I feel like a jaded musician who has been trying to ‘make it’ for too long. In my soul’s summer, I feel like I’m doing what I was made to do. In my soul’s winter, I feel like a pathetic, desperate egotist trying to convince people to love me.
I often wonder if there is any nobility in what I do. There are so many more noble callings, so many things that impact the world in broader and deeper ways.
I occasionally receive job offers and think about staying in Ireland or moving to various places in North America. Maybe I should be a pastor … or a church planter … or a missionary. And I keep wondering, what is God calling me to? Where is he calling me to?
In the midst of all those questions, however, I often forget a more important question:
‘Who is God calling me to be?’
As we’ll see in the next couple chapters of Matthew, Jesus is talking to groups of religious people who are obsessed with pleasing a God who seems simultaneously scrupulous and fickle. They are obsessed with tithing the right amount of herbs and nailing down the perfect theology and yet they have forgotten the heart of what it means to follow God … They have forgotten what the most important commandments are:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbour as yourself.’
When all my questions about significance, location and calling demand the attention of my heart, this is the place I need to return to.
Love God. Love neighbours.
If I can do that in this moment, I can be who God has called me to be where I am because everything other law, commandment or guiding principle flows from these two loves.
Love God. Love people.
Or as St. Augustine wrote,
Once for all, then, a short precept is given thee: Love, and do what thou wilt: whether thou hold thy peace, through love hold thy peace; whether thou cry out, through love cry out; whether thou correct, through love correct; whether thou spare, through love do thou spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.
What is my calling?
Love, and do what thou wilt.
It is, first and foremost, to be a lover of God and a lover of people. These are the bones upon which the flesh of our faith hangs, lives and grows. It can be done anywhere and should be done everywhere.
The details of my calling and career will work themselves out in time.
Right here, right now, I am simply called to be an imitator of the God who is love.
This calling is not just significant. It is the only place where significance can be found.