Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Living Up to a Higher Calling

The Apostle Paul to the Romans in his theologically pregnant epistle about the believer’s living and dying devotion to achieve the will of God:
“We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.”
~Romans 14:7-8 (NRSV)
This is a tall order in anyone’s perception. We can go to the strictest Bible teachers, contrasting and considering their exposits with due diligence, and we won’t find a stronger imperative.
Living up to a higher calling is no short order.
We have so much on our plates in living for God that judging (all) others should be a most unfavourable desire indeed.
Beyond All Other Distractions
The plain truth of life is we are often distracted from the tasks of truth and love at hand. We are human after all. Being fallible creatures, forgiven by God’s awesome grace, and sanctified in his name, we have no reason to rely on excuses.
We know we will fail in living up to this higher calling.
But, equally, we strive. We know we have the power of conscious intention, and the possibilities of managing each moment, and that these give us the ability to ascend to this higher calling.
We do not get discouraged by the distractions. Rather, we focus on what is coming—how we might live and die to the Lord. The character of this outlook is a spiritual marvel. In what sounds like a terribly limited philosophy or even a dire existence—to live and die to the Lord—is paradoxically a bigger, better, bolder life. But will we be big enough to live it?
A Most Grounded Ascension
It is easy for learned non-Christians like Jungian analysts to cruel the Christian for not attending to the darkness within his or her sins. The strange truth is, in bearing our crosses, we must fully own the comprehensive truth of our sin, even though we are absolved from the weight of it. Far too many critics of Christians fail to recognise what the Gospel calls the Christian to do, so far as the depth of their commitment in living to a higher calling. They see the worldly Christian representing their God. By this comparison, and not of the Gospel, our Lord is blasphemed.
The Gospel is the standard, not how pious humans live.
If we are to live and die to the Lord we must, more and more often, ascend to the holy standard whilst remaining grounded in the knowledge of our base sinful natures.
We are saved not from our sinful natures, but from the enormous, eternal weight of that sin. Because of our sinful natures we need to live and die to the Lord all the more. Because of the sheer size of our sinful natures, and the depth of God’s grace, we should definitely have no desire to judge other people.
When we live for God we become far less interested in judging others than when we are living for ourselves. We cannot live for God and feel justified in judging other people. Living for God is our sole and defining purpose. It’s enough for anyone. There is no room for judgment.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

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