October 25, 2018 • Life for Leaders
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Ephesians 4:4 speaks of our calling in a peculiar way. It says, “you were called to one hope.” Called to hope? What does this mean? What difference does it make?
Earlier in Ephesians, Paul prays that his readers “may know the hope to which he has called you” (1:18). This mirrors the language of Ephesians 4:4, though with the emphasis on God who calls, whereas today’s passage underscores our receipt of that calling. But what is this hope to which we have been called?
If we look a bit higher on the page of Ephesians 1, we find God’s ultimate plan and purpose: “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (1:10). This is our hope. It’s the reality of the future when God will restore all things and bring them into their intended harmony. Notice that this hope is objective more than subjective. English speakers would be apt to interpret hope as a feeling. But the Greek word translated as “hope” has a more substantive meaning in Ephesians. God and God’s glorious future constitute our hope.
So, we are called to hope, first and foremost in the sense that God has called us to participate in the future “kingdom of Christ and of God,” when all things will be unified through Christ (5:5). Therefore, we are called to be people who live with this hope in mind, people whose lives, thoughts, relationships, and emotions are shaped by the reality that lies ahead, a reality made real to us in faith and through the work of the Holy Spirit.
In a world filled with dire and desperate situations, with discouragement and despair everywhere, we are called to be people of hope. Through our words and through our works, we reflect and offer the hope of our calling, a hope of a world transformed through Christ.
Something to Think About:
Would you say that you are a hopeful person? Why or why not?
Do you live intentionally and consciously in light of God’s glorious future? If so, what difference does this make in your life? If not, what might help you to live out the hope of your calling?
Something to Do:
Don’t work on revving up hope in your heart. Rather, take some time to focus on the future, when God’s restores, redeems, and unites all things in Christ. Use your Spirit-led imagination to consider what this will be like. Then, think about how you might live in light of this vision of the future.
Gracious God, thank you for the future that lies ahead. Thank you for the restoration that is coming, when you unite all things in Christ. Thank you for the privilege of knowing what is coming and the gift of beginning to experience the future even now. Thank you for calling me to your hope.
Help me, Lord, to have a genuine hope, a hope that is centered in you and your work. Keep me from superficial positivity that is based in emotional enthusiasm. Instead, may my hope be in you and the certainty of your future. May I live today and tomorrow and the next day as someone who has been called to hope. As I do, may I be an agent of your hope in the world. To you be all the glory! Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project:
All My Hope Is Firmly Grounded (Hymn)
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.