Our Heavenly Calling: Hindrances to Our Practical Enjoyment

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Hindrances to Our Practical Enjoyment
The hindrances to our walking practically in the good of our heavenly calling are simple, yet the lessons to be learned often take a lifetime. As someone has commented, “Truth is simple; it is we who are complicated.” So the truth of the heavenly calling of the church is simple, yet we make it complicated and difficult.
Failure to Be Occupied With Christ in Glory
Possibly the greatest hindrance to our walking according to our heavenly calling is our lack of seeing that Christ, who is our life, is there in heaven. If He is our life and He is there, then our hearts will be drawn out to Him. To the extent that this is so, we will have our affections taken up there to Him, and, as the hymn says, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim.” We cannot take up our heavenly calling simply as a doctrine, for in so doing we shall dissociate Christ from it, and affection for Him will be lost.
It was this that took place in Ephesus, so that the Spirit of God through the Apostle John charges them with having left their first love (Rev. 2:44Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. (Revelation 2:4)). Outwardly, no doubt, all was in order, but God saw in the heart the spring of departure from Christ that eventually led to all the evil that followed. Doctrines that are separated from Christ tend to wither the vitality of the soul, and the higher the truth taught, the more sorrowful will be the results when it is pressed legally. Then hearts become discouraged and look for rest in self and the world rather than in the only place it can be found—in Christ.
May God give us not to be occupied with our love to Christ, but rather to dwell on how much He loves us! As another has said, “A thoroughly freed soul would walk as Christ walked. He would earnestly seek the good of man, he would use this world as not abusing it, thank God for all His creatures, for food and sky, and have his heart with Christ where Christ is.”
Failure to Be Practically Done With “Self”
Linked to this is another reason for our failure as to our heavenly calling, namely, that self has not been thoroughly dealt with. Of course, none of us would say that we had so thoroughly dealt with self so as never to have to do with it again, for we will never be rid of our sinful nature until taken home to be with Christ. But we must be willing to be broken as vessels, to have our hearts searched by the eye of Christ, that all that is not of Himself might be discovered and taken away. True Christianity makes everything of Christ and nothing of self, yet how often we want something of ourselves along with Christ! We subtly persuade ourselves that there is something good in us, even if it takes the form of pride in what we know. Then we are in danger of boasting of our knowledge—“knowledge puffeth up”—and perhaps of looking down on other believers. All of this must be laid open before God that His eye may search our hearts and that we may have Christ before us instead of self. In having Christ before us we will be kept happy, yet humble, as we see how little we are like Him.
Again, some may ask how this is to be accomplished. We must recognize that only God can work it in us, but if our desire is to have it, God will do it. As a brother said more than one hundred years ago, “If you see any beauty in Christ, and say, ‘I desire to have that,’ God will work it in you.” If we want to know more of Christ and all His beauty and practically to know more of our heavenly calling, God will work it in us. But we must be willing to let Him break us, to be “delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor. 4:1111For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (2 Corinthians 4:11)).
Failure to Walk Practically Separate From the World
Still a third hindrance to our walking according to our heavenly calling is worldliness. This again is very subtle, for we are IN the world and thus must interact with it to some extent. To attempt practically to go out of the world is not God’s way, as we have already seen. No, we are saved out of this world but sent back into it to be living witnesses of the grace that has saved us.
The danger is that we take on the character of the world. It has been well said that the moment I do anything to meet the eye of the world, worldliness begins. It may not be actual sin, but rather a way of thinking and living that is natural rather than spiritual, worldly rather than heavenly, and thus I lose my testimony to a lost world. The world system began with Cain, who went out from the presence of the Lord, built a city, and then proceeded to surround himself with everything that might minister to his happiness, but leaving God out. The world system he began is with us today, and we are not to be OF the world. Yet how often believers are in a measure separate from this world but continue to love “the things that are in the world” (1 John 2:1515Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15)). While these things may not be wrong in themselves, they become a weight and hinder the believer from running the race that is set before him.
Again, what is the answer to this tendency? How can we walk through this world, witnessing to it, using it, yet not becoming part of it? I believe Scripture would show us that a risen Christ in glory is the answer to it all. When we remember that this world has rejected our Saviour and that He has no place at all in it, then we too will not want to be part of it. We will realize that the same world that cast the Lord Jesus out of it (and would do so again if given the opportunity) is the world through which we pass. We will want to “walk, even as He walked” (1 John 2:66He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. (1 John 2:6)). There will be the fullest love to the lost and the earnestness of that love in bringing the gospel before them.
There will be the using of every chance to do good to others, knowing that while the world cannot see my heart, they can see good works and thus see Christ in me. But I will be bearing the character and deportment of one who belongs to heaven, whose future and treasure is all up there. It is this that will excite the hatred of the world. The world loves a Christian who exhibits all the graces that the life of Christ has given him, but hates the witness to Christ as the Source of it all and the witness that the world is under judgment. But the Lord Jesus could say, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:3333These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)). We too can overcome the world, for “whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world” (1 John 5:44For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. (1 John 5:4)).
In our next (and concluding) article we will look at some practical problems in our lives and how our heavenly calling should affect them.
W. J. Prost