April 11, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Ephesians 1:17-20 (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, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.
Christian hope depends, not on some emotional high, but rather on the bedrock of God’s calling to us. Moreover, it depends on the reality of the resurrection of Christ. Why does Easter matter? Because the resurrection gives us hope and reassures us that our hope will not disappoint us.
This devotion is part of the series: Why Easter Matters.
To what has God called you?
Most Christians think of God’s calling in terms of the work God has for us to do, whether in our professional lives, our families, or our participation in the church’s mission. We may also associate God’s calling with an invitation to know God and God’s love for us. But Ephesians adds something more, something unexpected. It says we are called to hope.
In Ephesians 1, Paul prays that those who read his letter will receive from God “a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him” (1:17). Then Paul asks that, in addition to knowing God better, we might also know “hope to which he has called” us, “the riches of his glorious inheritance,” and “the immeasurable greatness of his power” (1:18-19).
There you have it. Hope comes at the top of the list of things for which Paul prays. What does it mean to know the hope to which we have been called?
The phrase rendered by the NRSV 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” (Ephesians 4:4), here he emphasizes that the calling comes from God. We have a calling because God calls us. Though God first called us in the past, the content of that calling points to a glorious future. Right now, we belong to God because we have been called into a relationship with God. In the future, we will participate in the fullness of salvation, in the unifying of all things in Christ (Ephesians 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 and all that God has given to us in Christ and will give us through Christ in the future. 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.
Hope of this sort depends, not on some emotional high, but rather on the bedrock of God’s calling to us. Moreover, it depends on the reality of the resurrection of Christ. Why does Easter matter? Because the resurrection gives us hope and reassures us that our hope will not disappoint us.
When did you first sense God’s call to salvation and to a relationship with God?
How have you responded to that call?
How do you respond to the idea that you are “called to hope”?
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, hope in you, hope that lasts.
In this season of Easter, may hope inspired by the resurrection fill my mind and heart. Amen.
Banner image by Bruno Van Der Kraan on Unsplash.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: How Can You Know God Better?.
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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.