The various occurrences of the word “calling” in the New Testament present different thoughts and are intended to produce corresponding effects on our minds and ways. Many of these have been touched on with greater or less fullness in the pages of this magazine; but I seek to draw attention to one which clearly calls for much consideration.
“Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power: that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:11-12). What “calling” is this? The context must explain. A glance at the chapter will show us that these Thessalonian believers, recently converted under the ministry of the Apostle Paul, had but a feeble grasp of a deeply important line of truth—the dispensational, or that which addresses itself to the manner and times of God’s dealings with His people on earth. They had the idea that the coming of the Lord, to remove the church to glory, was immediate, and that it was so near that attention need not be paid to the ordinary affairs of life. Some of them grew idle—ceased to work for their daily food. This was clearly wrong, however right it is for faith to expect the Lord momentarily.
Further, they were exposed to the fires of persecution for their faith in Christ, and these burned so fiercely that they got under the false impression that the “day of the Lord” had actually come. They thought that judgment had overtaken them. False teachers had encouraged the error, so that altogether they were perplexed and in great need of the help given them in this second epistle. It must have dispersed the cloud and cleared their sky. In it they were taught that they were subjects of a kingdom in which they had to suffer. This may seem paradoxical, but it is most certainly true. The King suffered and is still refused; His followers need not expect any other portion. Their calling (and ours) is to be associated with a suffering cause and kingdom. That has been, is, and will ever be true of Christianity. For vital Christianity is no more popular today—though the fires of persecution may be mitigated—than it was in the days of its inception in its archetype, Paul. At the beginning of his ministry he was let down the walls of Damascus in a basket, endured countless sufferings throughout his course, and died on a Roman block at the end. He was not wanted by the world at any period of his splendid career.
Let us, beloved fellow-Christians, clearly apprehend that the kingdom of God must suffer. “He that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Soon the tables will be turned. The troubled shall rest, and the troublers be punished. God’s kingdom shall triumph; man’s shall perish. Rest with Christ shall be ours; everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord shall be theirs. Our calling in the near future is glory, our present calling, for which may our God count us worthy, is to suffer in true and hearty sympathy with His kingdom and its rejected heavenly King. All we need is hearts, loyal, subject, devoted, and true to Him till that day.