April 4, 2018 • Life for Leaders
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…
God has called you to hope. Did you know that?
Most Christians think of God’s calling in terms of the work God has for us to do, whether in our professional lives or our participation in the church’s mission. We may rightly associate God’s calling with an invitation to know God and his love for us. But called to hope? This, I would suggest, is not intuitive for most Christians. Yet, according to Ephesians 1:18, it is an essential aspect of our life in Christ.
In Ephesians 1, Paul prays that those who read his letter will receive from God “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better” (1:17). Then Paul asks that, in addition to knowing God better, we might also know “the hope” to which God has called us, “the riches of his glorious inheritance,” and “his incomparably great power” (1:18-19).
There you have it. We should know the hope to which God has called us. But what does this mean?
The phrase rendered by the NIV as “the hope to which he has called you” reads more literally, “the hope of his calling.” Although Paul can elsewhere refer to “your calling” (4:4), here he emphasizes that the calling belongs to God. We have a calling because God calls us. And the content of that calling points to a glorious future. Right now, we belong to God because he has called us to himself. In the future, we will participate in the fullness of salvation, in the unifying of all things in Christ (1:10).
Thus, when we consider God’s calling, we respond with hope. Notice that our hope is not something we conjure up in ourselves through positive thinking or by trying to have a good attitude. Rather, it is our response to knowing God. It is our response to all that God has given to us and will give to us in Christ. Therefore, in this passage, Paul does not exhort us to be hopeful. Rather, he prays that God will enable us to know the hope that is already ours in Christ. Genuine hope is a gift of God and a response to God’s gracious calling.
Something to Think About:
When did you first sense that God was calling you to him and his salvation?
How do you respond to the idea that you are “called to hope”?
Something to Do:
Take some time to reflect on the future God has for you. What do you envision? How do you feel? How might your sense of the future make a difference in how you live today?
Gracious God, may I indeed know you better. May I know you as the one who has called me to belong to you and to participate in your salvation. When I reflect on how your salvation will one day redeem all of creation, including me, may I respond with hope.
In this season of Easter, may hope inspired by the resurrection fill my mind and heart. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Easter: Bottleneck in the Communion Line
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.