Called To Be Different: Part 2
Yesterday we started talking about how we should first consider who God is calling us to be before we consider what God is calling us to do. Today we are going to continue with this topic. This is one of the primary themes in the book of Ephesians. In chapter 4 Paul transitions from his theological basis for the Ephesian believers being called to Jew-Gentile unity in the church to a description of how they should live in light of this theology.
Ephesians 4:1 1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called
This statement itself implies that their actions (how they live) should be in line with their identity (who they are).
In Colossians 3 we see the same thing. In a long list of imperatives Paul tells the believers at Colossae,
Colossians 3:9–10 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
The reason they ought not lie to one another is based in their new found identity in Christ. They have “put off the old self…and have put on the new self”.
This communicates a vital truth: God doesn’t just want to use you. God first and foremost wants to be with you and fundamentally change you.
G.K. Chesterton said, “all evil comes from enjoying what we ought to use and using what we ought to enjoy.” I’ve been wrestling with statement a lot trying to decide if it is true or not. Whether or not all evil can be linked to this I do not know but I think the premise is helpful. If our concept of God is that he only wants to use us instead of enjoy a relationship with us, we will be left with a performance driven concept of attaining God’s approval. In our performance driven culture, this is like an alcoholic living above a bar. What happens is we, then begin to view even work for God (volunteering, giving, attending, church, etc) as efforts to gain his approval. The foundation of our relationship isn’t found in simply who we are as individuals, but it is based in what work God can get out of us.
In this false equation we not only view God’s acceptance of us as contingent upon what we do for him but we also view our acceptance of God as contingent upon what he does for us. This becomes a terribly utilitarian relationship with God. God to us becomes someone to use for our own ends and benefits instead of a loving heavenly Father to enjoy and relate to. We love and serve God, not for who is but, but solely for what he does for me. Then the moment God stops giving us what we want and life gets hard we run to something or someone else who can provide what we most desire. Sadly, many of us not only approach our relationship with God this way but also our relationships with one another.
This, however, could not be further from the truth. We don’t do good things to earn God’s approval. No! We have been given God’s approval so we do good things. Paramount to God’s call is us being made new, not the work we do for God. Who we become in Christ is more important than what we do for Christ.
ff to 4:12 for additional content
For additional content to day I’ve included a portion of my conversation with Bevin Dawson where he talks about how he views his work as formative for his faith and the faith of others.
Do you view the work that you do for God as achieving his approval or do you view yourself as having God’s approval so you can work for him without fear of rejection. I hope this sets you free from any legalism or performance driven standards of acceptance that you perceive God has for you. On the other side of the equation, are you loving God for who he is or do you only love him because of what he gives you. Also, examine your relationships with others. Is there anyone close to you that you’re relating to out of a purely utilitarian mindset. Repent and strive to cherish them for who they are.