I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, Ephesians 4:1 KJV
The writer to Ephesians, the apostle Paul, is writing a letter which is the culmination of the richness of revelation to a mature and glorious Church.
Here Paul is demonstrating in his life the high calling, however he also explains in Philippians 3 the cost of pursuing the high calling being that losses and sacrifices are the roads that one must go along to attain the high calling.
Today Churches and ministries do not understand this process, as there seems to be a deception abroad, which is reminiscent of Isaiah 28, where Satan says “I will” 5 times. There is a desire in Satan to ascend, and God made him descend, with a crash. In Ephesians 4, in contrast Jesus descended first, and was humiliated in various dimensions. In all spheres Jesus fulfilled the Will of the Father and is given a Name above all names.
We have created an aspiration culture, where ambition has taken over, where ministry is assumed instead of being conferred. And we wonder why pastors stay hours in counselling, because what they have in their ministry is mixed seed. The route to attaining completion is to submit to the “descending” that God brings us through. The theology of the Kingdom is contrary to the Philosophy of the World. Paul says the worldly mind is at emnity with God, can never be reconciled.
So when we look at the High Calling, what are we talking about?
Philippians 3:10 tells us what is the High Calling.
1. To know Him: Knowing God in fulness is captured by the Hebrew Word “yadah” which denotes the ultimate in intimacy. The “yadah” is the ultimate union between two people. The Bible talks about this unity in terms of covenant, there are two mentioned in Scripture: one covenant with God, the other is the marriage covenant. These covenants when broken have eternal ramifications. The word tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 that there are 3 eternal strands that will always remain; faith, hope and love. The covenants have elements of these 3.
2. To know the Power of His Resurrection: To know resurrection we must have descended into the “death” process. Romans 12:1-3 specifies this process. A “living” sacrifice, in that the sacrifices are those which contribute to the high calling. It is what we exchange when we engage in greater levels of covenant. God sometimes leads us on, like Abraham to leave a geographic location, or Isaac, who stayed in a location even in difficult circumstances. Or Paul who was a leading Jewish teacher, having to abandon when he came to Christ. He had initial losses but as he walked out his calling God took his losses and brought him to many gains. So these gains are the power of the Resurrection to areas of his life that he had given up for dead. Ezekiel 37 is an illustration of what God does to dead and dry situations. He resurrects them.
3. Fellowship of His Sufferings: Jesus’ life is a prophetic pattern for our own. Jesus even challenges us to a depth of discipleship where we take up our own cross. The cross we carry is not the same as Jesus’ cross, nor that of our brothers or sisters. That is we cannot moan and complain when we live out this identification, as some seem to be on the fast track of “success” as we evaluate it. Yet in every success story has a common ingredient. There are long seasons of failure, obscurity and personal crises. These are all the stepping stones to our success. And how does God define success? I think success that God sees, is that through life’s conquests, they bring us closer to His Heart.
So when God permits circumstances in our lives, He permits them based on the fruit of intimacy they gain for us. Human nature desires to succeed based on ambition and hard work, whereas success in the Kingdom comes from discipline with prayer and Bible study, and obedience. This obedience is not subservience because this obedience is a fruit of our intimacy with Him.
If we believe that the High Calling is ministry, pulpits open throughout the world,we are mistaken. There are thousands of pages of stories of those who pursued God in a sense through extreme circumstances , lost all, even to their lives. There is suffering that God allows, that if we process this in grace to be a positive force in our lives, we will move into a fellowship with Christ through what we identify with Him who passed through it before us. Christ apportions to us a greater level of fellowship when we process suffering as part of the Gospel, a necessary cost of our discipleship. Even in relationships, being at different places in God there can be a measure of suffering as another’s lack of maturing can impact on our walk as we shock against them in their lack of submission.
So as we draw this message to a close, we must know that even Jesus descended first as the Father then exalted Him. This is the pattern we need to follow. In Hebrews 1 we read of a oil of joy, which transports us through suffering to victory. This is our guarantee.
Let us strive for the High Calling, prepared to make correlating sacrifices that will qualify us.