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The High Calling

For most people, when they die, it will be just as though they had never lived. They will have spent the irreplaceable energies of life in trivial discussions, nugatory activities, and tiring pursuits of inferior goals. For them, nothing is particularly important, and no ambition stirs them beyond velleity or mild cynicism. For them, life is one colorless day after another which soon passes into the fog of forgetfulness and is then over. Nothing was ventured, nothing was gained. There is cause for rejoicing in nothing which they can take the trouble to remember.

There are many ways to be dead while yet we live, and a purposeless, ambitionless life is one of them.

Therefore, to every Christian the Apostle Paul would say, “Knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Rom. 13:11). In the same manner, the Scripture says, “Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light” (Eph. 5:14). The life of the Christian should be exactly the opposite of the spiritual sleepwalking which has become so common in our time. It is not from drowsy boredom that Paul is speaking when he says, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). Here is one of those stately and inspiring verses in the Word of God that should ignite the imagination and bestir us with new spiritual ambition. “The high calling”—what might be meant by this?

It surely means many things, one of which is to live life for a greater purpose than the sinner could ever know. Something of this is expressed by the Apostle Paul when he said, “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:20-21). Here we have a statement of the clear and sterling purpose that motivated this man to world-changing accomplishments. His message was to be used of God to profoundly affect a crooked and perverse nation among whom, in similar fashion, we all shine like lights in the world. “Rise up, oh men of God, be done with lesser things,” is the admonition of the old hymn. Many people wonder why they do not receive more blessing from God. Could it be that trivial lives are already receiving more blessing than they can use?

The high calling surely also means responding to a more noble summons than the world could ever bring. How sad it is to see any Christian who settles for the hypocritical approval and petty rewards which are the best that the world has to offer. A life is wasted that commits itself to a lesser course than the high and holy purpose which God has for each of us. To every Christian, the Bible says, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a people of His own; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (I Pet. 2:9). A noble summons this is indeed, to be called into the marvelous light of Christ.

God also calls every Christian up to the life of greatness and real accomplishment. To each believer, the Apostle Paul says, “I call you.” If we respond affirmatively to that call, we will fulfill the perfect will of God (Rom. 12:1,2).

The high calling of God also means operating at a towering altitude. The hymn writer said, “My heart has no desire to stay where doubts arise and fears dismay.” And to get away from these things he is pressing on to higher ground. Spiritual altitude for a Christian bears marvelous results.

For instance, when presented with temptation and the opportunity to sin against God, the Christian has two answers. He says to the Devil or one of his hirelings, “Yielding to that temptation is both wrong and it is also beneath my dignity.” Sin is a tawdry, crummy, grubby thing, whatever the TV sitcoms may assert. We should be offended that the Devil offers such cheap alternatives to the high flight of a Christian. That altitude gives a sense of spiritual sophistication whereby the Christian can say, “I refuse to waste my time on the cheap little futilities of this world. Be gone, you tempters—I was not made for the low road.” Yes, one of the greatest fools in the world is a cheap sinner.

The high calling of God also surely means anticipating a majestic eternity. He believes the Scripture to be true which says, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him” (I Cor. 2:9). It is clear then, that the high calling of God i s not simply for the accomplishment of noble things in this vain world. No indeed! The high calling of God is the commanding invitation by the Lord to move up to the stratosphere of spiritual opportunity in this world and then to arrive at heaven with the surety of eternal commendation and rich, lasting rewards. Concerning the people who have given diligence to make their calling and election sure, the Scriptures say, “For so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Pet. 1:11).

There is no doubt about it! To pursue the high calling of God in Christ Jesus is to live a majestic life in this world and as a consequence to move into an infinitely more marvelous existence in the world which is to come. Make no mistake about it, it is a glorious thing to be a Christian. It means to travel the high road through the exigencies of this life and to arrive in that day at one of the higher stories of heaven.

How sad that once an author described Christians as “the rabble with their thumb-worn creeds, their large professions, and their little deeds” who “mingle in selfish strife.” To the extent that this accusation is true, it should cause us to weep. But more than this, it should fill us with an inexorable purpose to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. There is a prize worth the wise and passionate pursuit of a lifetime.

From the writings of Dave Breese

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