May 5, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Ephesians 1:17-18 (NRSV)
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints.
When God calls us into relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we are given a glimpse of the future. At just the right time, God will restore the broken world, gathering up the shattered pieces and uniting them all in Christ. In that day, God’s peace and justice will fill the earth. Christians are called by God to be people of hope. Christian hope is not wishful thinking. Rather, it is confidence in God’s future. It is a gift from God’s Spirit. When we know the hope of our calling, we are inspired to live each day with courage and boldness, seeking God’s kingdom in all we do.
Today’s devotion is part of the series God’s Transformational Calling.
So far in this devotional series on calling in the letters of the Apostle Paul we have seen that God calls us to many things. He calls us to be his special people (1 Corinthians 1:2). He calls us into fellowship with Christ and his people (1 Corinthians 1:9). We are called to believe the good news of salvation through Christ (1 Corinthians 1:22-24). We are called to peace in our relationships (1 Corinthians 7:15), to belong to Christ (Romans 1:5-7), and to unexpected freedom (Galatians 5:13). In the letter we know as Ephesians, Paul prays for the letter’s recipients, mentioning another dimension of God’s calling: “[I pray that] . . . you may know what is the hope to which [God] has called you” (Ephesians 1:18).
The Greek behind this prayer reads more literally, “that you may know what is the hope of his calling.” God’s calling, as we have seen, is primarily God summoning us into relationship with God through Jesus Christ. God invites us to be his special people, living in his love and as walking in the good works he has designed for us (Ephesians 2:10). We learned in a previous section of Ephesians that God’s mission for the cosmos will be culminated in the future when God “gather[s] up all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:10). The universe, shattered by sin, will be put back together through Christ. God’s peace, permeated by righteousness, justice, and blessing, will fill the whole creation.
So, when God calls us through the gospel, we are called to a compelling vision of the future. We are called to hope.
In contemporary culture, hope is wishing for something, longing, perhaps even anticipating that we might get it. Hope sounds like, “Oh, I hope the pandemic will soon be over. Oh, I hope we can start being with people again. Oh, I hope the economy will recover.” You can even hope for things that are quite unlikely: “Oh, I hope we won’t have any more fires in California this year” (even though I’m pretty sure and sad that we will). Hope is longing, wishing, and desiring, whether or not that for which you hope will happen.
Biblical hope is different. Far beyond wishful thinking, it is deep confidence. It is a conviction about the future. Christian hope is knowing that what God has begun in Christ God will complete when the time is just right. We are called, not just to any old hope, but to confident hope.
This kind of hope isn’t something we conjure up through our own efforts. Rather, it is something to which we are called, something given to us as a gift of God’s Spirit. Notice that Paul did not tell the Ephesians to be more hopeful. Rather, he prayed that God would help them to know of the hope of God’s calling. Hope comes from God’s work in us through the Spirit. When we embrace the hope of the gospel, not only do we look forward to God’s future, but also we are empowered to live boldly and courageously every day.
Are you a hopeful person? If so, why? What gives you hope? If not, why not?
When you think of God’s future, what do you envision?
Do you live with confidence in the future work of God through Christ? If not, how might your life be different if you lived with the assurance that God will one day restore all things through Christ?
Join the Apostle Paul in praying for yourself and for those you love, that God might grant knowledge of the hope of his calling.
Gracious God, thank you for giving us a vision of the future. Thank you for the fact that, at just the right time, you will restore all things through Christ. We look forward to the day when you will wipe away every tear, when your healing and peace will fill the earth.
God, when we say “Yes” to your calling, we accept the hope of your future. Yet, there are times when it’s hard to be hopeful, times when we feel discouraged or doubting. So, gracious God, we need you to help us to know the hope of your calling. We ask that, through your Spirit, you will stir up confident hope within us. Even when we walk through the darkest valley, Lord, may our hope remain because you are with us.
I pray for those I know who need to know hope today. I think of friends who are going through difficult times, facing economic uncertainty or racial prejudice. I think of those who are exhausted, having spent all of their energy trying to balance the demands of work and family during the pandemic. I think of folks who worry about what will happen to them as they age, people for whom the future feels scary. For these and so many more, dear Lord, I pray. Give them knowledge of the hope to which you have called them. And may this confident hope help them to live fully and fruitfully 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 High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Knowing God, Knowing His Inheritance – Part 1
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.