Confirm Your Calling
Living the Christian life is not easy. There are so many forces pulling you, tempting you, to conform it to a different way. Sometimes its very clear these forces are pulling you in the wrong direction. Other times it isn’t so clear.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. (Proverbs 14:12)
In similar fashion Jesus says in Matthew,
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Mt 7:13–14)
I have been a part of many churches through my years. And in every church it is easy to see people with varying degrees of commitment and varying degrees of conformity to living the Christian life. In fact, these differences are so evident, church planting, church growth, and church health books are often written in view of these differences. For example, one book identifies these groups as the targets for their ministry as “community, crowd, congregation, committed, and core,” citing Jesus own ministry experience. He traveled through the community, saw a crowd who were curious as to what he was about, spoke to a congregation who followed his ministry, taught those committed to him, and gave himself to a core of disciples. At each level of commitment, there were fewer and fewer people. From this it is easy to see what Jesus meant when he said,
For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:14)
It is enough to ask yourself, what road am I on?
Peter writes this letter to help you figure that out. He doesn’t write about all of these levels of commitment (though they can be helpful). He simply encourages you to “confirm your calling and election.”
A bit more crass way of putting it would be like this: How many of you believe you are Christians? And what would you offer as evidence?
That’s a call to obedience. It is often the forgotten part of what it means to “be saved.” We like to think of that language in terms of what we’ve been saved from, which is the judgment of God. Those who have a calling and election from God are certainly saved from the judgment of God. Peter writes about this in this letter, as we will see as we work our way through it. But he doesn’t start with this. Instead, he starts with something far more important. He starts with what we are saved to. What is that?
We are saved to what he calls “a life of godliness.” And this life of godliness is described in wonderful and even supernatural ways. It is glorious.
While we might start our journey toward God out of fear (this was certainly how the Israelite’s journey out of Egypt started), it ultimately is replaced by something far more motivating—the privilege of God’s presence.
Let me put this in applicable terms. When I was in college and started to be convicted of a wayward lifestyle, I was overwhelmed with guilt and fearful of my future. And so I ran toward obedience. And for a while, I lived a better life. But as the fear and guilt subsided, so did my motivation to live a better life. It wasn’t until I saw for myself something about the love of God that my life really changed.
Where are you on the road to life? And what is motivating your trek?