We are in this world as citizens of the kingdom of heaven!
This is the glorious truth which gives impetus to our lives and meaning to our calling in the world!
LIVE ALWAYS AS CHRISTIANS
But as citizens of the kingdom of heaven living in the world, we do not run away from the world in foolish world flight. We live in this world as we ought. We must live in every part of the world. We must live as citizens of earthly kingdoms. We must live as members of society. We must work for our daily living in shops and factories or business of our own. We must establish families and build homes. We must erect schools and educate our children. We must take the gifts which God gives us whether they be the inventions of the world or our own gifts and talents and make use of them. We must work in the world and work hard.
But all this we do as Christians. We live beneath the shadow of the cross. The cross of Jesus Christ as the power of our salvation casts its long shadow over the whole of our life and reaches into every part of it. And in this shadow we must continue to life. We must not be merely citizens of the government, but Christian citizens. We must not simply work for a living, but work as children of God. We must not simply be members of society, but Christian members fleeing from fellowship with the world, hating all that is of sin and the devil, and walking as children of the light. We must not live in strife or hatred in society or in government, but keep ourselves away from those that do and foster such strife. We must live in peace and love. We cannot become a partner with the world in their evil endeavors, but must on the contrary establish Christian homes, Christian schools, Christian universities, and Christian organizations of every kind and in all of life. We must not bring the world into the church, but go forth from the church as members of it to reveal the light that shines in us, fighting for our principles and truth, maintain our calling, representing God’s covenant and cause and the cause of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When the world opposes us, this is not an excuse to forsake our calling, not to be unfaithful to our confession, but submit in willingness and eagerness to the will of our heavenly Father. More and more it becomes a fact of life to reckon with that there is no room for people of God in the world. They share no longer in the prosperity of the world; they cannot use the inventions of the world for the cause of God; they cannot find enough faithful people of God to establish Christian organizations; they have extreme difficulty in supporting their schools; they are pushed out of business and commerce, science and industry; they are shoved from the world. But this makes no difference at all. Their calling remains the same, and they go forward in the hope that presently they shall inherit the earth.
THE MOTIVE OF THEIR LIFE
But we must do all these things not from the motive of making this world a better place to live in. I have no sympathy for those who are always trying to “Christianize” the world. This is impossible anyway, and is wrong to try. While the world boasts about its glorious attainments and significant strides forward, and while the modern church tries to capture part of the glory for such amazing success, the stark fact is that the world gets worse and worse. Sin abounds more and more. And even the Christian cannot overcome the power of the curse and has no desire to. “No more than the natural man can the Christian by “Christian culture’ attain to the ideal of the perfect soul in the perfect world. For he also lives in the body of this death and with all his earthly life is subject to corruption; and also for him all earthly life is subject to corruption; and also for him all earthly things are vanity. Just because a man is a Christian doctor and surgeon, he cannot save his patient from disease and death. He cannot escape the ‘vicious circle’ of cultural efforts. But he strives to make all things subservient to the kingdom of God.” The Christian and Culture, p. 15.
To make all things subservient to the kingdom of God! That is the glorious calling of the believer. That is the very heart of his calling in the midst of the world. That is the deepest meaning for him of his own Reformed world and life view.
And this is not some abstract and fanciful ideal – a mirage for which he strives; but it is something which takes on concrete meaning in his life. The kingdom of God is represented also on this earth in the church of Jesus Christ of which his is a member. This church becomes the center of all his life. He does whatever he does for the sake of his church and for the sake of the church of God in the world. His life revolves around his church and is centered in it. For it is in this way that he serves His God with all that he has, loves Him with his heart and mind, and praises His most holy name.
No matter what he does, this is his calling. Perhaps you go to school in order to study for your future life. Perhaps you establish a home by marrying a wife and having children. Perhaps you work in a shop, in a school room, in a laboratory, in the pulpit. Perhaps you are a member of school board, a committee, an organization. And certainly you are a member of society, a citizen of a government, a person who is called to live for a time in this world. But no matter what you do, what vocation you choose, what your duties and labors, your obligations and calling, you do all things for the spiritual well being of the church of Jesus Christ. You work or teach or preach for the sake of the church. You build a home and raise a family for the sake of the church of Christ in the world. You drive your automobile, listen to your radio, read your daily newspaper, teach your children, build your schools, and talk to your neighbor, for the benefit of the body of Christ. No matter what may be your calling, your station, your place in life, you are first and foremost a member of the church of Jesus Christ. For that church you live and die – yea, do all things.
This is the glorious calling and life of the child of God.
THEIR HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
And because this is their calling, so believers look forward to the future. They do not walk through life with long faces drowned in the hopeless depths of pessimism. Nor yet do they eat and drink and be merry reasoning that tomorrow they die anyway. They look with uplifted heads to the future. They know that this world is not their home, but that there awaits them beyond the horizon of history a new and glorious kingdom of heaven where Jesus Christ their Lord shall be all in all, where sin and death and the curse shall never again intrude, where the weary load of guilt will be completely removed, where all the weaknesses and infirmities of the flesh shall pass away as a bad dream.
There shall be a glorious and perfect creation and the believer in the midst of it, where he will be able to rule perfectly as king under Christ, and lay it all on the altar of perfect consecration to His God. This is his hope and his comfort. For this day he lives!