“18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,”
// Ephesians 1:18
What father is there who, in seeing their daughter or son do well, does not swell with love and pride over his child? What father doesn’t himself grow in good repute when it spreads abroad the good deeds, the good character, and the good reputation, of his son or daughter? What father doesn’t get asked, “is that your child?” when others behold their good deeds, and then is lauded by others for raising such a one? This is a father’s inheritance, this is what a father gains when his child does well and is looked to by others as a moral source of goodness. So it is with us and our Father in Heaven.
It takes eyes opened to this reality, of His inheritance in us, for us to begin to see what all is available to us—not just what the Father has made available in terms of covenantal provision, but what is available to us in terms of opportunities to upgrade the opinions of others about our Father. We get to be a visual demonstration of the extraordinary goodness our Father is known for in Heaven; we get to be those who publish abroad in the earth, far and near, the good news about the goodness of our God and Father.
Part of what it means for Him to call us is that He calls us to carry the good news to earth from heaven, and throughout the earth, that He is as good in this realm and domain as He is in heaven. He wants those in the earth to know that He is as good here as He is there; He wants to be known on earth as He is known in Heaven. His goodness enraptures those who stand before Him in heaven, and here it is to be no different, for on earth He wants those who will see Him as He is and be enthralled to His goodness.
We are called “citizens of heaven” in Philippians 3:20: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” On earth we use the word “call” or “calling” in several ways, and I will spend time exploring the different registers of meaning for that word as a means by which to understand the fullness of our calling. On earth, we call ourselves by our names, by our demographics (sex and gender, ethnicity, age, etc.), and by our nationalities: I am a white, 35 year old male, of Italian and German heritage, who is an American. I call myself these things as a mode by which I, and you, might identify me. So, because we are from heaven, because we are born from above, we too must call ourselves heavenly citizens. We must be seen identifying ourselves as those who, like Jesus, come from heaven and whose citizenship is in heaven.
Paul called us “ambassadors for Christ” for a reason: once we are born again—or born from “above” as the Greek puts it—we are no longer from this realm. We are not earth-centric in our citizenry any longer, but heavenward. Paul, in Colossians 3, tells us: “Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, no on the things that are on earth” (verses 1-2). We are citizens from another realm, another world, and we have been born from Above but sent here as ambassadors of that realm, the realm of our origins—heaven. We are called, here on earth, to manifest heaven, and heaven’s goodness and heaven’s God, in an ambassadorial way. Men from this realm should look to and at us and see our heavenly citizenship stamped on us, in the way we speak and act and carry ourselves, just like they can tell the difference between an American and a French citizen, by the same cultural markers.
We, too, have cultural markers that identify us as different in our origins, for we are born from Above and carry the culture of the Above realm, the domain of the King. Those “cultural markers” are what Paul here in Ephesians 1:18 calls “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” and elsewhere he enumerates as the “fruit of the Spirit” (see Galatians 5:2-23). Paul further clarifies the heavenly culture in 1 Corinthians 13 and James notes the cultural ways of heaven when discussing its wisdom’s expressions in James 3. The nature, character, and ways of God are our cultural markers, by which men of the earth know that we are “no longer mere men” as they are, but different and, with that, from Above. When we walk in our Father’s ways—His cultural attributes—we manifest His kingdom and proclaim our new “national origins,” our heavenly citizenry. When we look, act, think, and speak just like Him, we not only show to others the heavenly culture, but we spread abroad the news of His goodness toward all, in heaven and on earth. We make Him look good to others, such that they call on Him for salvation, and His family grows in correlation with the growth of His repute in the earth.
Ours is to live according to our calling as heaven’s citizens in such a way that mere men will begin to call on the name of the Lord, that they might be saved from the darkness and be born again, born from Above, born from the Father’s Love. The more we show Him to be what He really is, good through and through, the more His repute grows in the earth and the more He inherits not just a better name on earth, but more children in the earth. His family grows in numbers and repute, and this is His great inheritance, in which we have a central part to play.