Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.

Romans 1: 1

This is the opening thought that Paul expresses in Romans, and he states two really big ideas in this short sentence. First, Paul was called by God; the Lord had something in mind for Paul to be doing, and He communicated that something to Paul. Second, in responding to God, Paul was set apart. He was removed from the place in the world that he had previously occupied, and through the miracle of adoption into God’s household, he was granted a new identity and a new purpose in life. Thus, Paul became a distinctly new individual whose greatest mission was to do the will of God.

These same things are true for everyone else who decides to follow Jesus. You and I are also called by God. He has a plan for our lives, and He has given each of us specific skills and granted us certain gifts that He will use in us to answer that calling. Also, God takes everyone who responds to Him, and He moves us out of the view of the world that was ours before and provides us with a new perspective and a new mission within that life. It is not like we are living in some form of fairy tale, however, where the changes happen to us, and we are not really participants in them. God effects the essential change within us by giving us His Spirit; yet, He continues to dialogue with us over the remainder of our lives. He continues to reveal His calling to us, and we are asked by Him to continue to surrender ourselves to being separated from our old lives.

The daily challenge that I face is in listening to God’s call and in humbly giving up control of aspects of my life to Him so that I can respond to that calling more fully. Christ is speaking every day, and He has a mission in mind for us to respond to during each of those days. So, the big questions is this, am I willing to follow Paul’s leading and set aside my own desires and anticipations in order to answer? The gospel calls us into engaging fully in the adventure that is our new life in Christ, and Christ promises the blessing of God’s love, peace, and grace to all who set aside the old life and accept our new being as servants of the King. In Christ, we are each called to enter into that service. Let us follow the Apostle Paul and respond to Christ’s call to leave the world behind and to give up ourselves as servants to our Lord as we respond to Christ’s leading for our new lives in Him.  

Since all of these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?

2 Peter 3: 11

 

Here we have a question that applies to everything that we do, each thought that we have, and all of our life’s work. The simple truth is that our total portfolio of investments, acquisitions, and even the tangible things that we build with our hands will ultimately perish. The simple truth is that people cannot create anything that is not going to decay and eventually be destroyed or replaced in that all of this world is tainted by damaged and decaying molecules that have been infected by sin. Yet, this thought is not a frustrating, futile, or hopeless one; for, it leads to the greater question of holy and righteous perspective and orientation on everything in life.

 

God created each of us in conformity with His plan, and He designed righteous purpose into us, too. The Lord has something in mind for everyone to do and to accomplish in this life; so, seeking after that purpose in order to fulfill God’s plan is a reasonable consideration as the primary life focus for all who know Christ. I admit that I can get very lost in the process of trying to figure out just what that great purpose is. Some of the time I seem to just spin in circles like a dog chasing its tail trying to catch up with the illusive will of God; at other times, I become over whelmed by my lack of skill, training, and qualifications to even attempt to do the things that God seems to be placing on my heart as dreams. These are times when I let myself believe that these ideas or concepts are too great for someone like me to even attempt to achieve.

 

All of these struggles are the result of a lack of true focus and can be cured through seeking after the things that the Lord considers to be of real importance. God wants me to look at Him and toward Him first and foremost. Then my gaze is shifted from myself with my obvious inadequacies, and it is placed squarely upon Christ with His complete and total capacity and command of every situation that is before me. Christ wants me to understand how I am to think as His new creation and to live as His committed disciple; then, He will take me into the actions of my life as a natural progression of that relationship with Christ. Thus, my hands can actually create things which will last, and my legacy can be one that endures as my energies are put into living a holy and a righteous life.

 

By justice a king builds up the land,

but he who exacts gifts tears it down.

Proverbs 29: 4

 

In case this fact may have slipped by your attention, it is election season. The astute cultural observer among those who are reading this might ask, “When isn’t it election season?” I agree with that thought, for it doesn’t seem like we are never far removed from a time when people are actively campaigning either for re-election or to take an office away from someone else who they deem to be less worthy of it. We live in a world where politics and political maneuvering are the main business of government. This is a part of the problem that God wants to call to our attention in this proverbial saying.

 

As the offices, the power, and the true authority of all of our governmental leaders are ordained and operate out of the will of God, the Lord desires that they would be carried out in certain ways. Among those mandates that God has established for the proper exercise of His authority, justice is very high on the list. God desires that His concept of fair treatment, compassionate care for the weak, and humble servant leadership would be embraced by all who take on the responsibility and the power of high office. Sadly, when we start to look to our leaders as the source for a definition of justice, we will almost always be gravely disappointed. There are very few people who are able to withstand the political pressures that come with the territory of elected office; also, they are called into roles where they are enforcing laws and rules of law that are inherently unjust. So, we can hope for real improvement, anticipate the best, and cast our votes carefully; but human kings will almost always fall short of expectations and fail us greatly.

 

In order to grasp, comprehend, and embrace justice in our world we must look to Christ and to how He leads us in living. Throughout the long history of humanity there has never been any lasting justice except for that which has been tendered out by people who know God well and who are committed to following His pathway through life. If we desire to receive justice in this world, we need to look to Christ and realize that God alone is the one who will truly grant it to us. If we desire to see people treated justly then we must be the ones who do it. God’s compassion, mercy, grace, and righteousness are played out in this life through the attitudes and the actions of His people. They are given fellowship in His community of faith, His Body. Together, in Christ, we are the true hope for justice in our land.