Some things are just opinion and one way of doing them is just as good as another. Some things are important on which most people would agree. When it comes to subjects like faith, character and the golden rule we can usually stand together. Some things are vital in God’s service such as worship and service to God. In Ephesians 4:1-6 Paul pleads for unity in the church and lays out seven fundamentals on which the “Unity of the Spirit” has to be based. We’ve looked at the one body and the one Spirit earlier. Today I want to focus on the “One hope of your calling.”
Hope is what keeps a person going when things seem to be falling apart in their life. We often misuse and even abuse the word “Hope” by applying it to wishful thinking instead of the way it is used in Scripture. Think of things you’ve heard people say in using the word. “I hope I win the lottery” “I hope the Publisher’s Clearing House jackpot is mine” or “I hope I get to play tackle in the NFL even though I am 50 years old and have never had on a football uniform.” The result of such uses of the word often leads to people thinking that the hope of the Bible is just wishful thinking as well. The unbeliever looks at the Christian’s belief in heaven and hell and thinks they are just living in a fantasy land. Even Christian’s will talk about blind faith or a leap of faith as though what one believes about God and His will were based on a wish for a better world.
The word “Hope” in the Bible is an equal mixture of desire and expectation. Many things we desire in life we don’t really expect to happen and many things we expect aren’t what we would desire. It only becomes hope when the two are put together and we both long for a thing to happen and believe deeply that it will take place.
One of the unusual things in this verse is that Paul tied the idea of hope with our calling. He started this whole discussion by mentioning our calling when he referred to himself as the prisoner of the Lord and challenged us as readers to “Walk in a manner that is worthy of your calling.” The whole idea of our having a calling from God is prevalent in Paul’s writings. In Romans 8:28 he said, “For we know that God causes all things to work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” In the next two verses he goes further with the idea of the calling by saying, “For whom the Lord foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His son that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. And those he predestined He also called, those He called He also justified and those He justified He also glorified.” Two things stand out in those verses with regard to the calling. One is that everyone that comes to God is called. The other is that the goal of our calling from God is that we would be conformed to the image of His son.
In Philippians 3:14-15 when Paul described what motivated him in living for God he noted that he hadn’t arrived in his life for God, “But this one thing I do, forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out to the things that are ahead, I press toward the mark of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul knew he was called to serve God and be devoted to Him. He knew that he was called to be the apostle to the Gentiles. He felt his whole life was centered in doing what God wanted him to do. But his goal was to keep moving toward the upward call of God.
Later the apostle Peter asked us to “Make our calling and election sure.” (2 Peter 1:9-10) Our calling of God involves being called by the gospel of Christ to salvation but it also involves some area of service to God.
Think of how this relates to the challenge in Ephesians 4:4. There is “One hope of your calling.” Whether we are talking about the call to salvation and a relationship with the Lord or the call to serve Him in some particular way, there is one hope of that calling. It isn’t that we will become wealthy, famous or powerful.
In Romans 8:24-25 Paul gave one of the greatest pictures of hope and what it involves. “For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” Even our salvation is based on hope since the reason we come to God is our hope for forgiveness, acceptance with God and even the joy of heaven to come. Hope isn’t built on what we have seen. It isn’t that we develop hope because God gives us a walk through heaven to see what it will be like when we get there. It isn’t that we go through some semi-death experience where we see a bright light and get a warm feeling. If we already saw what we are hoping for it wouldn’t be hope any longer. Hope is built on trust in God that all that He promised He will fulfill. It depends entirely on our ability to trust Him and His ability. Abraham wasn’t just a great example of faith in the Lord, he exemplified what hope does for a person. In Romans four Paul said that “In hope he believed against hope, trusting that what God had promised He was able to perform.” If you were 99 and your wife 89 and God’s promise was that you would have a child with your wife, would you believe that it would happen and place your hope on that promise. His faith resulted in hope which kept him faithful to the Lord. It is the same hope that will keep us trusting God all along.
In Colossians 1:27 Paul said, “To whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The presence of the Lord in us now determines the hope we have for the future. Hope is ultimately always tied to “Glory” in heaven. In I Peter 1:3-4 it says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” The writer of Hebrews says in chapter six that hope serves as an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast that is thrown in behind the veil.
The point in all of these passages is that hope will motivate us to keep growing in faith and commitment to God even when things seem to be going wrong. There isn’t anything that destroy’s us more than the feeling that “Hope is lost.”
We serve a God who believes in us and longs for the best for us ultimately. Out of that faith and love for us He gives us hope on which to build our lives. Never, never allow the worries of life or the pessimistic views of the news to bleed away your hope in Christ.