Knowing God, Knowing Hope - Part 1Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Today, we are in the first week of Advent, the Christian season of the year that helps us prepare for celebrating the birth of Christ. Advent is a season for waiting, yearning, and hoping. Thus, it is timely that hope figures prominently in Paul's prayer in Ephesians 1:15-23.
After opening with thanksgiving, Paul asks that the recipients of his letter might know God better. In particular, he prays that they "may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe" (1:18-19). Hope heads the list of that which we might know more profoundly: hope, riches of inheritance, power.
The phrase rendered by the NIV as "the hope to which he has called you" reads more literally, "the hope of his calling." Although Paul can elsewhere refer to "your calling" (4:4), here he emphasizes that the calling belongs to God. God, who chose us before the foundation of the world (1:4), makes this choice known to us by calling us to himself and to his salvation. As Paul writes elsewhere, we are called into the fellowship of Christ (1 Cor. 1:9) and into God's own kingdom and glory (1 Thess. 2:12). Though God first called us in the past, the content of that calling points to a glorious future. One day, we will participate in the fullness of salvation, in the unifying of all things in Christ (Eph. 1:10).
Thus, when we consider God's calling, we respond with hope. Notice that our hope is not something we conjure up in ourselves through positive thinking or by trying to have a good attitude. Rather, it is our response to knowing God and all that God has given to us in Christ. Therefore, in this passage, Paul does not exhort us to be hopeful. Rather, he prays that God will enable us to know the hope that is ours in Christ. Genuine hope is a gift of God and a response to God's gracious calling.
In this season of Advent, we renew our hope not by trying to be hopeful, but by focusing on God, the source of all hope.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When did you first sense that God was calling you to him and his salvation? How does the calling of God in your life give you hope?
PRAYER: Gracious God, may I indeed know you better. May I know you as the one who has called me to belong to you and to participate in your salvation. When I reflect on how your salvation will one day redeem all of creation, including me, may I respond with hope.
In this season of Advent, help me to know you more truly and deeply so that hope fills my heart. Amen.
We have just entered the Christian season of Advent. If you would like to celebrate Advent, you might find the following resources helpful:
Advent Devotional Guide from Laity Lodge Youth Camp and Laity Lodge Family Camp.
Introduction to Advent available on my blog.
Introduction to the Christian Year available on my blog.
My e-book, Discovering Advent: How to Experience the Power of Waiting on God at Christmastime, available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Images sourced via Creative Commons.