Our Highest Calling
I’ve always had a drive inside me to distill things down to their simplest form. The irreducible essence. It’s a game I play to help me remember and focus on the most important things. In journalism and advertising school this was ingrained in us—take the complex and make it simple. David Ogilvy, the “Father of Advertising,” wrote in a memo of 10 tips to his employees, “Never write more than two pages on any subject.” Consequently, it’s actually a real challenge for me to write a full-length book.
So as I related in the first chapter, I began this distilling process when I became a Christian. I thought I had it with the word do. And then be superseded do. And now I see that know is the highest calling of the Christian. To know God.
Billy Graham put it this way:
Have you ever wondered why God put you on earth, what is the purpose and meaning of life? It is to know Him, and to know His love.
But wait a minute, you may say. Isn’t love our highest calling?
Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. @1 Corinthians 13:13
But how can you love someone—or love others because of someone—that you do not know?
How can you have faith in someone that you do not know?
How can you have hope in someone that you do not know?
To the degree that you know someone, you can love more deeply. You can believe in more faithfully. You can hope in more earnestly.
But, you may say, isn’t praising and worshipping our ultimate objective?
Again, I say, how can you praise and worship someone that you do not know?
But, you may protest, what about evangelism and discipleship? Isn’t that our primary assignment?
How can you tell others about someone that you do not know yourself?
But, you may say, what about bringing Him glory? Surely that is the chief end of man. After all, it’s right there in the Westminster Shorter Catechism:
Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
Indeed, glorifying God and enjoying Him forever is our purpose, the reason we were created. But again, how can you bring glory to and enjoy someone that you do not know?
Knowing God supersedes everything else because it is the supreme cause. Everything else—being, doing, loving, believing, hoping, praising, worshipping, evangelizing, glorifying, enjoying—is an effect.
Knowing God is priority one. Out of it flows all the rest of the Christian life.
The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. @1 John 4:8
Are you not loving? It’s because you don’t know God.
Cause: Knowing God.
The more you know Him, the more you will love. The more you know Him, the more you will praise Him. The more you know Him, the more you will tell others about Him. The more you know Him, the more you will glorify and enjoy Him.
Note Paul’s inspiring charge to the Philippians:
My goal is to know (ginosko) Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead. @Philippians 3:10–11
To know Him is power. It is fellowship. It is eternal life.
But I Already Know God
At this point you may be thinking, “I already know God. I’m a believer. But I don’t feel like I’m living out the Christian life to the fullest. I sin. I fail. I feel defeated. I act like a lukewarm Christian most of the time. I’m not getting this.”
I can relate. For years, I struggled with trying to muster up the faith to resist temptation. To do great things for Christ. To live “the victorious Christian life.” To live up to standards of the Bible heroes—and the Christian “self-help” books. In fact, often one of the most discouraging exercises I inflicted on myself was reading Christian discipleship books. They were always well-intentioned, and I’m sure I often missed their point. But the picture of the biblical Christian that they painted seemed unattainable. After reading them, I felt like the puny 7th grader who was the first to be cut from my junior high school basketball team. I just wasn’t close to measuring up.
That’s when I began to understand that I was focusing on the measuring stick instead of the Measurer. I was beginning with do instead of with know.
My wife is a wonderful Christian woman who is extremely gifted in discipling women and providing biblical guidance. God sends her a steady stream of ladies with various hurts, habits, and hang-ups. She meets with them for Bible study, and a few months later, an amazingly high percentage of them get back on their feet, hit their stride in their spiritual walk, and go on with life recovered and revived. How does she do it?
Some might be suffering from eating disorders. Some are having marriage problems. Some are overcoming the pain of divorce. Some just feel they are at a dry place in their Christian journey. You might think she would pull out verses that address their situation or go through a Christian book about their particular problem. But that’s not how she approaches the problem at all.
She takes them through a study of the names of God.
That’s it. No magic bullet verses. No pop psychology books wrapped with Christian self-help packaging. Just a simple, straightforward study of God using His names and titles to learn about His attributes and benefits.
“My goal is to know Him and the power…” @Philippians 3:10
Get up close and personal with God and everything becomes clearer. Once, a man was browsing through an art gallery when he came across a curious abstract painting. It was distorted, almost grotesque, yet intriguing. He stared at it, tilting his head and squinting his eyes, trying to make sense of the shapes. Finally, a man approached him, and said, “Get closer to it.” So he moved closer. “Now get lower.” So, he bent over, never taking his eyes off the painting, yet still, it didn’t look right. “Get closer, lower.” He moved in some more and crouched down. “Closer, lower,” the stranger urged. Now he was on his knees right next to the wall, looking straight up at the painting. Suddenly, a glowing amazement broke across his face as his mouth opened, “The Cross!” Viewed from the right position and at the right perspective—closer and lower—the “abstract” painting revealed an amazing rendering of the Cross.
Come to the foot of the Cross.
So that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. @Isaiah 43:10
Get to ginosko know Him as you grow in understanding and trust. Get up close and personal with Him. As you get closer and lower, your relationship will get warmer and deeper. It’s at the foot of the Cross that your perspective on life comes into focus. It’s under His care that you’ll live secure and satisfied. It’s by His side that you’ll discover who He wants you to be and what He wants you to do. It all starts with knowing Him. And that’s really All you need to know.