The Higher Calling
We’re all on a journey to become like Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul said, “I want to know him and the power of the resurrection that I may obtain the resurrection from among the dead… I press toward the mark of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Our Lord has brought us to a “garden” where we can walk with him and talk with him… Where he tells us we are his own. God is continually calling his children to his upward calling both in this life and the next. According to Isaiah 55, God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are not our ways. However, he has placed his seed within us when we were born again. This is our new nature of the righteousness of God in Christ in us. We now have Christ’s heart behind our heart, his eyes behind our eyes, his ears behind our ears, his feet behind our feet, his hands behind our hands, and his tongue behind our tongue. Our prayer is that we may grow up into him, the author and finisher of our faith. Prior to the verse in Isaiah 55, the prophet mentions that God will blot out his peoples’ sin and transgressions. This was accomplished by the full payment of our debt of sin by Jesus Christ upon the cross, for he who knew no sin was made the perfect sin sacrifice on our behalf that we may be made the righteousness of God in him. Only by God’s mercy and grace can we press toward the mark of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus. Our loving Heavenly Father has called us unto a new way of life and living… Behold all things are new. Old things have passed away for he has given us a new spiritual nature. Therefore we can rejoice as did Jeremiah, “morning by morning new mercies I see.”
Because of the hope of the resurrection, we have been called to a higher way of thinking. Therefore we can now walk in a manner worthy of him.. to give glory to our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul writing from a Roman prison penned these words to the church in Philippians 1:20: According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. The question is not whether we will live or die. According to the Word, “it is appointed for all men once to die.” The question is whether or not I will glorify Christ in both life and death. Oswald Chambers wrote a devotional called “My Utmost for His Highest.” Regarding this verse Chambers said, “my eager desire is that I will continue to do honor to Christ by fearless courage whether I live or die. We will all be ashamed if we do not yield to him in all areas of our lives where he has asked us to yield to him. It’s as if Paul were saying that my determined purpose is my utmost for his highest… My best for his glory. To reach that level of devotion is a matter of the will, not of debate or reasoning. It is absolute and irrevocable surrender of the will at that point. An undue and insidious thought for ourselves is what keeps us from making that decision. Therefore shut out every other thought and keep yourself before God in one thing only, my utmost for his highest…to live for him and him alone.”
Therefore we preach Jesus Christ and him crucified. For it is unto them that are perishing the stench of death unto death. But unto them that believe, it is the sweet smelling fragrance of life unto life. As Paul said in Romans 1:16-17 I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. For it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone that believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
Paul was determined that nothing would stop him from doing what God wanted. In Philippians 1:21 he said, “for me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” Whether living or dying, Paul’s goal was to give his utmost for his highest. Before we choose to do God’s will, a crisis must develop in our lives. A crisis is the decision point to press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. To turn form our own wills to the high calling, we must repent and turn from ourselves and unto him. God will bring us to our knees. We can either kneel down before him willingly in prayer or we will be brought to our knees by the weight of the crises of life.
Pete’s wife Susan had carried their second baby son to term. On the ordinary day when Susan went into labor, Pete went to the fathers’ room to wait for his new son to arrive. The Lord reminded Pete, “How much control do you have over your life today?” While Pete was praying for his wife and son, God answered Pete’s prayer, “Would you purpose in your heart to give your utmost for His highest no matter what the outcome? Whether your wife and baby live or die, will you purpose in your heart to love, honor, serve and praise me?” When we’re living at a lower level, we want to hold on to things over which we have no control. The crisis forces us to make a decision whether or not we will press toward the mark of the higher calling of God in Christ Jesus. Either God’s promise is true that he will work all things for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose or God is not faithful to his Word. Pete’s response back to God was, “Who am I to tell you Lord what to do in this situation. You, Lord are in control, not me. You who sent your own son to die on my behalf may choose to take both my wife and my son. They are in your hands, not mine. Not my will but thine be done. Father come and help yourself to my life.”
When the doctor came into the father’s waiting room the news was not what Pete wanted to hear, “we lost the baby.” However, Pete was comforted by the decision that he had purposed in his heart, “Lord, no matter what the outcome, I will honor and serve you.”
In the day to day routine of life, it’s easy to pledge my utmost for his highest. However, crisis situations are our wake up call to press toward the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus. These crises are “come to Jesus moments” to prove that we cannot overcome life’s trials in our own power.
God is calling us to come up higher to the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus. To the place where you were created to live and love and have your being. To the place where you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free. To the place where you recompense no man evil for evil but overcome evil with good. To the place where faith replaces fear. To the high place where living for Him frees you from the insidious preoccupation with your selfish self. To the place of the upward calling where you experience his fruit: love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. Our Father says, “Come unto me with a contrite heart of meekness and humility and I will give you rest. Come to the place of my inner chamber where my righteousness, grace, mercy, peace and love reign; come away with me my beloved.”
In the words of the immortal hymn by Will Thompson:
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me,
See at the portals he’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and me.
Come home, come home, ye who are weary come home.
Earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling– calling, “O sinner come home.”
May God richly bless you.
Your brother in Christ,