In today’s Daily Office from the Book of Common Prayer, the apostle Paul makes this plea:
“As a prisoner for the Lord, the, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)
I think a lot about “calling” — both my calling and the calling into which God invites my church family to live — and to be honest, my thoughts most easily gravitate to all the ways that we fail to live worthy of our calling. I/We aren’t sufficiently devoted to study and prayer. I/We don’t witness as boldly as we should. I/We don’t serve as sacrificially as we could.
Of course, these elements of our calling deserve to be taken seriously; and in truth, one of my fears as a pastor is that I’m failing to inspire among my brothers and sisters (or is it that I’m failing to inspire within myself) the kind of wholehearted devotion that leads us to do “extraordinary things for God.”
But at the same time, I can’t help but feel like the better goal would be to inspire the kind of devotion that leads us to do”ordinary things in God.” As I reminded my congregation in yesterday’s sermon, our calling originates and finds its fulfillment in God’s faithfulness, not ours. And in the verses references above, Paul describes a life “worthy of the calling” – not in terms of events programmed, studies completed and contacts made – but in terms of humility, patience and love.
Later in this same chapter, Paul will say that Christ gave various leaders to His people so that we could “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). What if living “worthy of the calling” has less to do with what we’re doing – and more to do with who we’re becoming? What if we were to imagine what the “fulness of Christ” would look like when lived out in our home, our workplace and our community – and then to pray that God’s Spirit would empower us to be that kind of person?
Gracious God, may your Spirit be at work within us today, so that we can receive the Life that makes us the kind of people who can live a life that is worthy of your calling.