Keeper of Values (2)
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
It matters who’s calling
We all get phone messages. And text messages. And email messages.
Sometimes they pile up, clog up, and jam up. Some we never get to; most will just have to wait. We have other things to do, things we value more than responding to every forwarded message, casual caller, cute cat video, or earnest inquirer. We’ll get to them when we can, that’s the best we can do.
We scan or scroll through our messages throughout the day, just to see who’s calling. Because it might matter. If the message is from someone we want to hear from, or someone who has a claim on us that we must heed – like a boss, a child, or your spouse – then we get right on it. Such messages go to the head of the list and are responded to right away.
But most messages aren’t like that. And for many Christians, God’s calling them into His Kingdom and glory does not hold priority of place in their lives. God matters to them, to be sure. He even gets special time during the week when He’s all the focus.
But we have a lot of things to do, and we can’t take up all our time thinking about God or how we might please or serve Him. Things are pressing on us, you know? That is, other things, other matters, situations, and opportunities are calling us, and we need to take care of them. They have greater value to us than the fact that God, as Paul says, is continually calling us into His own Kingdom and glory.
Probably most Christians treat the calling of God as a kind of punctuated equilibrium. He breaks into their lives to “call” them to some activity or task, but only from time to time, and only for that activity or task. He “calls” us to believe the Gospel, and we do. He “calls” us to this or that church, and we go. He “calls” us to some ministry or other Christian activity, and so we participate. He “calls” us to make a special gift, go on a mission trip, send a note of encouragement to a friend, and so forth. Our lives run on their own schedules, so whenever God “calls” us to do something, we’ll try to get it done.
But most of the time, other things have prior claims on our lives. We have jobs, families, friends, responsibilities, things we like to do or must do. We can’t respond to every calling from God because, well, there just isn’t enough time. We say, when friends press us to consider this or that Christian opportunity, “If God calls me to it, I will.” But aren’t we just using the language of piety to relieve the discomfort of pressure to do something we’d rather not do?
We are called of God. Of this there is no doubt. But for most Christians, the way they understand God’s calling is not the same as the way God issues it. And they have not yet learned to value His calling as He intends, as the defining and guiding value of our lives.
Ongoing and all-encompassing
Paul describes God as continually calling us to His Kingdom and glory. Every day, and for every moment and activity of every day. His calling on our lives is not merely occasional. It’s continuous, ongoing, and all-encompassing. God calls us to His glory in all the everyday details of our lives (1 Cor. 10.31). He calls us to His Kingdom as the priority in every situation, the defining outlook, motif, aspiration and driving force in every aspect of our lives (Matt. 6.33).
Many Christians understand this. They understand that God’s calling is total and unrelenting. He does not call us occasionally, or every so often. He does not call us when a big project needs to get done. He does not call us through some crisis or in the face of some emergency. God is always calling us into His own Kingdom and glory, in every situation, in all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities.
Whatever else we must do, whatever task or duty, obligation or priority, it must be defined by the higher value of seeking to fulfill our calling to the Kingdom and glory of God.
And what a glorious privilege this is! The God of heaven and earth, Lord of nations, Ruler of all creation, Redeemer, Savior, and King – this God is calling us, calling us to enter His Kingdom and glory, there to be transformed in every aspect of our lives so that we lay down our lives at every moment for His service and praise.
When this calling becomes the ruling value in our conscience, so that we hear God calling us to His Kingdom and glory in every situation, it teaches us how to think and feel about our lives. It filters out every extraneous or distracting thought or emotion. All of life becomes an arena for knowing and serving God, a platform for enjoying and declaring Him, an opportunity to grow in and refract Him to the world. Everything in life comes to be defined in terms of our primary calling to the Kingdom and glory of God. Our time is the Lord’s. Our work is for Him, whatever it may be. All that we are and have, every moment and all our strength, are drawn, pulled, bent, inclined, invested, and employed in heeding the calling of God into His Kingdom and glory, pursuing His righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit in all we do.
Set this as a value firmly in place in your conscience, and everything about your life will change.
1. What does it mean to be called to the Kingdom of God? How would you be able to recognize someone for whom this was their highest priority?
2. What does it mean to be called to the glory of God? What opportunities do you have each day to fulfill this calling?
3. Why do you suppose more Christians don’t have this Kingdom-and-glory calling as the highest value in their conscience?
Next steps – Conversation: Suggest some ways to stay mindful of God’s calling throughout the day. How can Christians help one another in this matter?
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.