God’s Priorities for His Churches: Truth (4)
You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2.10-12
For as our salvation is founded upon God’s gracious adoption, every blessing that Christ has brought us is comprehended in this one term. It now remains that we answer God’s call, that is, that we shew ourselves to be such children to him as he is a Father to us. For he who lives otherwise than as becomes a child of God, deserves to be cut off from God’s household.
- Calvin, Commentary on 1 Thessalonians
Vocation, not vacation
The apostle Paul defined discipleship as walking “worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” Discipleship is thus a walk, a way of life and our normal mode of being in the world. It is a calling from God, a vocation, and thus only finds its true meaning, essence, and fulfillment by focusing on God, hearing and heeding His Word, and living in a manner worthy of Him Who is Creator, Sovereign, Lord, Redeemer, and King. The apostle John wrote, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 Jn. 4), echoing Paul about the truth of a disciple’s way of life.
Discipleship is a vocation, and we only know the truth of what it means to be a disciple when our calling to discipleship encompasses, involves, and defines every aspect of our lives, all our normal walk in the world.
For many Christians, discipleship is more like a vacation than a vocation. In a vacation we leave our normal, everyday lifestyle for a while – we vacate it – to go somewhere altogether different, somewhere we don’t have to work, where we can relax and enjoy ourselves; somewhere we can do what we want, as we want, or not even anything at all.
And that just about sums up the way many Christians today approach their “discipleship” as believers. Church and its many activities are some place to go away from their normal lives of work and the daily grind, where they can choose what they want to do and don’t have to work hard at anything, and which they will enjoy while they’re there and leave it behind as they return to their normal life and walk in the workaday world.
But the truth about discipleship is that this is not the truth about discipleship. And if we are allowing those in our care to believe this is true discipleship, then we are like the blind leading the blind into the ditch.
Called to the Kingdom
God has called us to His Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14.17, 18). Jesus commands us to seek this Kingdom and righteousness as the first order of business in everything we do (Matt. 6.33). We need the Spirit of God to empower us for life in this Kingdom, so we must seek His filling for all the time of our lives, so that His fruit, gifts, power, and transforming grace will be at work within us always (Eph. 5.15-21; Gal. 5.22, 23; 1 Cor. 12.7-11; Acts 1.8; 2 Cor. 3.12-18; Phil. 2.13).
In the Kingdom of God, we do all that we do heartily, as to the Lord and not to men (Col. 3.23). No aspect and not a minute of the time of our lives is separate from our calling to the Kingdom of God. We are not our own, our stuff is not our own, our time is not our own; we have been purchased by our King and called to His Kingdom, and this calling takes up every aspect and facet of our lives.
To flourish in this Kingdom we must be willing to follow our King to the cross, denying ourselves, resting in the power and provision of God, and living as witnesses and ambassadors for Jesus Christ. There is no vacation from this vocation. We are called to the Kingdom of God; let us be always about the business of being there.
Called to God’s glory
We are called to the glory of God, to know the reality of God’s beauty, goodness, and truth refracting through our words and deeds in everything we do, even down to such everyday mundane activities as taking a meal (1 Cor. 10.31). All our works are to be good works that glorify God and declare the hope we have in Him (Matt. 5.16; 1 Pet. 3.15). Whether we are on the job, at home, doing business in the marketplace, working in the yard, or enjoying a meal or cultural activity out, we are called to glorify God.
Jesus glorified God, and so we can glorify Him by so knowing and loving Jesus, and emulating all His words and ways, that when people experience us in whatever our setting, they will experience Jesus, and thus know something of His grace, as well as of the truth of our discipleship.
Obeying the heavenly calling
Believers are “partakers of the heavenly calling” (Heb. 3.1), and the portfolio attached to this calling includes no time off for being anything other than citizens and ambassadors of the Kingdom of God, called to glorify Him in all things.
We who are appointed for the equipping of the saints in the churches of the Lord are not doing so in truth if we allow those entrusted to our care to pursue their discipleship as vacation rather than vocation. We must lead them to Jesus, connect them with Jesus, and insist that they follow Jesus, no matter the cost, in all the relationships, roles, responsibilities, and time of their lives.
Because this is the truth concerning what discipleship means as our vocation from Jesus.
Forgiveness Seminar with Dr. Stan Gale
I commend to your reading Dr. Stan Gale’s book, Finding Forgiveness, which you can learn more about by viewing my Conversation with Stan (click here). Stan offers Finding Forgiveness workshops, seminars, and forums, and you can find out how to contact him by watching our Conversation.
Prayer for Revival
“If then we seek rightly to know him, we must inquire what sort of being he is; yea, he must be clothed with his own power, lest we lay hold on an empty shadow and not on him.”
- John Calvin, Commentary on Hebrews
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T. M. Moore
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.