Advent Devotional 12/7: The Upward Call
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14, ESV)
The 3rd of the 8 Steps to 200 is to "Raise the Standard." One of the ways we will grow as a faith community is to reclaim a high standard and expectation of what it means to be a Christian and a member of Kardia.
Some of us might wonder, why raise the standard? Aren't we fine as we are? We may feel comfortable at our current level of spiritual maturity and growth, both as individuals and as a church.
But complacency can be deadly. Just as living a sedentary lifestyle can be bad for your health, so can a spiritually indolent lifestyle make us ineffective in our faith. Complacency can lead to us becoming weak and unfit for the challenges we might face as Christians.
What is the standard? It is more a trajectory than a cutoff point. Of course Christ is the ultimate standard, but practically for us, it may be more helpful to think that wherever we are in our growth, we can still grow upward. Paul the apostle, in his letter to the Philippians, is modeling an approach to faith that keeps moving him upward.
I am inspired by Alex Honnold, the rock climber of "Free Solo" fame. Already one of the best climbers in the world, he did not rest on his laurels. He went on to successfully free solo climb El Capitan, one of the largest, most challenging rock faces on earth.
Some of us might feel fearful or inadequate to answer the upward call of God. It is good to know that unlike Alex Honnold, who went ropeless in his historic climb, God has given us the rope of his grace. Even if we slip and fall, we cannot fall too far before the grace of God catches us.
Still, it wouldn't do to just hang there in the middle of the rock face. God calls us higher into Christ. Our motivation is the love of Jesus Christ. If we have experienced Christ and his blessings, we know that there is more to Jesus than we presently know.
Let God activate your spiritual curiosity. Let him show you a vision of higher and more in Christ. While God loves you as you are, his love for you calls you upward into greater fellowship with him, more holiness, more Christ-likeness, more spiritual power, and greater service for Christ and for people.
God you think more of us than we think of ourselves. You love us as we are, but you see us in all our potential. There is no pressure or coercion with you, but a gentle invitation to come higher, to see the world from a higher vantage point, to have a greater vision and more faith.
Your upward call on our lives is not only for our own benefit, but for those who could be impacted by our growth. There are people whom we cannot reach in our current level of growth, but who could be reached as we more fully and faithfully express the design and destiny you created us with.
In 2020, we ask that you call our entire church higher, to be more like Jesus, to experience greater holiness, to be more fervent in our love for you and for people, to be more filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and to give and do more out of love for those in need.
Overcome our fear and little faith. Begin awakening the stirrings of faith through which the impossible begins to seem possible, even for us. You can do anything through anyone, even through us.
In Jesus' name, Amen.