May 19, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – 1 Timothy 6:12 (NRSV)
Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
God has called us to eternal life. We have been invited in to share in the world restored, when God reigns fully, when his love and justice fill the earth. Though we wait for the fulness of eternal life, we begin even now to experience it. When we receive God’s grace and share it with others, when we seek to treat all people with divine dignity, when we love those who are hard to love, we receive a foretaste of the life that is to come.
Today’s devotion is part of the series God’s Transformational Calling.
Growing up in Southern California, I started going to Disneyland when both Disneyland and I were quite young. In those early years, one of the theme park’s attractions was the Monsanto House of the Future. It featured a tour of a “home” that claimed to represent the future. Though I’m not quite sure we’ve adopted the unusual design of the Home of the Future for our own residences, it did include a microwave oven, years before such a thing was readily available.
The Home of the Future was taken down in 1967, but Disney’s fascination with future living continued on, especially in the Carousel of Progress, a rotating theatre program featuring animatronic people in various eras of life, including, of course, the future. The Carousel of Progress, with its catchy tune, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” spent six years at Disneyland before being moved to the Magic Kingdom in Florida, where it opened in 1975, though with a new theme song. (If you’re curious, check out this video.)
It is said that Walt Disney himself loved the Carousel of Progress. Perhaps it was even his favorite Disneyland attraction. And the song “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” was known to be Walt’s theme song. He had a particular fascination with the future and sought, in his unique way, to bring it into the present.
Walt Disney, in his preoccupation with the future, reminds me of the Apostle Paul. To my knowledge, Paul did not build models of futuristic homes. But he did speak often of the future in his letters, urging his readers to live in the present with a future orientation.
In 1 Timothy 6:12, for example, Paul writes, “Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” Notice the middle section of that verse: “take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called.” The phrase “eternal life” (zōē aiōnios) literally means “the life of the age to come.” Eternal life is what will come when God restores all things and rules completely over heaven and earth.
Notice that we are called to eternal life. This is similar to what we saw in Monday’s Life for Leaders devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 2:12. In that verse, God “calls [us] into his own kingdom and glory.” God invites us into the life of his future, when he will wipe away every tear where there will be “endless peace” and God will rule “with justice and with righteousness” (Isaiah 9:7). To put it differently, God calls us to eternal life.
Yet, this eternal life is not only something we will experience in the future. We are to “take hold of the eternal life” to which we have been called. This is something we do now. We hold on tight to the promise of a new way of living. As we do, we begin, even now, to experience dimensions of this life. Whenever, for example, we receive God’s forgiveness or forgive someone who has wronged us, we are participating now in something that will be fully realized in the future. Or, when we seek to make our workplaces more just, we are opening up a way for God’s future to impact the present. These are two of countless ways in which we can take hold right now of the eternal life, the life of the future, to which God has called us.
When you hear the phrase “eternal life,” what comes to mind?
Do you ever think of what God’s future will be like? If so, what do you envision? If not, why not?
How might you live today in light of the eternal life to which you have been called?
Take some time to reflect on that last question. Ask the Lord to show you something you might do in the next 24 hours that reflects the eternal life of the future.
Gracious God, once again we thank you for your calling. Thanks for calling us into a relationship with yourself. Thanks for calling us to be your people, serving you, and serving others in your name. Today, we thank you especially for calling us to eternal life, for inviting us into your glorious future.
Lord, help me to take hold of this life today. Help me to live now in light of what is to come. May a vision of your future give me hope. May it motivate me to live today in ways that reflect your redeeming and restoring grace. O Lord, with your future in mind, may I do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with you today. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Audio on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Walt Disney on Celebrity
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.