Our Calling

Eph. 4:1.---' I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called.'

What is this vocation or calling?

It may be the name of Christian, or follower of Christ, whom St. Paul had made known to them. They were a small body of Christians in the midst of a great heathen city; in a city, too, in which all the vices of the degenerating Greek and Roman life were mingled with wild freedom of Oriental luxury and indulgence. The time of definite persecution had not yet come to them, but in Ephesus, as in Rome, they were no doubt subject to much misconceptions and slander among their unbelieving neighbors. Yet if St. Paul's work was to be strong and fruitful, if the Church of Christ was to grow and spread in that great capital of Asia, they must be worthy of the name which they bore, they must show the meaning of 'Christian,' by setting before the eyes of the world the gracious example of Christian life.

And so he proceeds to give them practical teaching of what the Christian life implies, the gentleness and kindness, the purity and self-constraint which mark the Christian character as it marked that of Christ Himself. If they call themselves Christians, they must aim at showing before men the life which their name implies.

But it is something more definite than that. Throughout St. Paul's Epistles we find constantly recurring the idea of the calling or summons of God to those who are His: 'Faithful is he that calleth you,' 'The prize of the heavenly calling,' 'The hope of your calling,' 'Them that are called according to his purpose.' Some such expression occurs in almost every Epistle; and the idea on which it rests is something more than the mere calling by a particular name, something more than a mere allusion to the first conversion and admission to the Church of those to whom he wrote. The idea rather seems to be that of the summons of God to each one of us to be that which God created us to be and meant us to be. This is what St. Paul most frequently brings forward as a motive for the best and highest life.

We are to participate in the very life of God. Men and women are created in the image and likeness of God. The Greek Fathers taught that, in the fall, humanity lost the likeness but retained the image. Christianity is the restoration of the lost likeness to those who have been redeemed in Christ. The Apostle does not so much appeal to us on the ground of fear for the consequences of sin, on the ground of punishment or the anger of God, but on that of the greatness and nobility of that life which God calls on His sons to lead.

God has His ideal for each of us. What is this ideal? It is not enough to answer, The ideal is that I should be very good, very kind, very this or very that. If it were no more than that, every one of us would have a different notion, and the best of us a very feeble notion, of the ideal man. And yet thousands of people set up a little tiny ladder of their own making, and say, I must try to climb to the top of it. And sometimes it is so tiny that they succeed, and are quite satisfied with themselves. They have never had a vision of the ladder that reaches from earth to heaven. If we start from man's point of view, we shall never get anywhere. We must try to see what God thinks about it.

We may be by grace all that God is by nature. In this life Christians grow more and more into the very likeness and character of God, as God was revealed in the man Jesus Christ. We are to believe the Son of God, and exort others to preach him the Son of Man; man saying and doing all that belongs to God; God saying and doing all that belongs to man.

God's ideal for us is that we should be perfect as He is perfect. The eternal God, by His very nature, wishes to express Himself, reveal Himself, throw Himself forth in space and time. And the result is the Universe, the Creation, the continual calling into being and sustaining of all things that are. And man is the highest created instrument of God's Self-expression. The lower animals, the vegetables, and the minerals are all His instruments to express His life impersonally; man is His instrument to express Him personally, and perfectly. God has an 'eternal purpose as St. Paul calls it, an age-long plan; and I am one detail in that plan. He gives me my earthly existence, by His deliberate will He begat me, I came from Him, for one sole purpose---to be an expression of Him. Christ said, 'He that hath seen me hath seen the Father,' and even we have the privilege of striving to be able, in our little measure, to say the same thing. Have you participated in the divine nature today; in the eternal bliss and glory of the kingdom of God today?

Regeneration of human nature; being like God, is accessible to every man who participate personally and freely in the life of Christ. Pour out the Spirit of the Father for the union and communion of God and man, imparting God to men by means of the Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit, communicates to us the energies of God Himself, so that we become partakers of the divine nature. Man is not fully man unless he is in communion with God. God is absolutely transcendent in His essence, man's communion with Him has no limit. According to the Word; we are called to imitate Christ, we are also called to manifest the energies of the Holy Spirit. Becoming one with God is bestowed by grace through faith, not by works. Meaning our vigilance, watchfulness, intensity, zeal, and spiritual wariness is essential.

A great musician is about to compose a symphony. Before he writes down the notes, he has them in his thoughts. In his thoughts the symphony is exactly as he wants it to be; it is perfect; all the harmonies are perfect; all the several parts for the instruments in a huge orchestra are perfect. And he throws out his thoughts into the written score. the symphony becomes, in a sense, separate from himself, although it originated in his very being, and never, in fact, leaves it. Why does he do this? Because he must. He wants all the harmonies, and the working out of the theme, to come rushing back to his soul exactly as he thought them. He wants ever sound from every instrument to be in accord with his perfect idea of what it ought to be. He wants the symphony, which was, and is, within his being as a complete timeless whole, to return to him in the form of a musical process, worked out in time.

And from all eternity the universe has been God's thought, included in His very Being. In His eternal thought all mankind is quite perfect. And He threw forth His thought in a perfect form in Jesus Christ. The score is the visible, tangible expression of the perfect symphony. The incarnate Christ is the human expression of God's very thought, that is, His very Being. And God longs that the 'score' may be perfectly reproduced, worked out, by the great orchestra of mankind. From all eternity your life and mine, in the perfection that He wants, have been in his thought; and now He wants to hear the perfect performance of His composition. And we can do that only by living the life of Jesus Christ. That is not merely an imitatio Christi; the orchestra does not 'imitate' the score. The score is the symphony, available for all; and all must reproduce it. We must live Christ.

In Christ, timothy. Maranatha