By Bruce Green
Teaching Minister at 10th Street Church of Christ
Part of Paul’s prayer for the disciples at Thessalonica is that “our God may make you worthy of His calling” (2 Thessalonians 1:11). He prays the same sort of thing for disciples elsewhere (Ephesians 4:1; Philippians 1:27; Colossians 1:10). Interestingly, this passage is singular in the sense that it is the only place where God’s role in the process is specifically addressed (rather than assumed).
What exactly is Paul asking for with this request?
Some of us flinch at the idea of being “worthy.” Maybe we think about Jesus’ words, “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty” (Luke 17:10). When disciples celebrate the Lord’s Supper every week it reminds us of how God did through Jesus what we couldn’t do for ourselves. We were rescued from sin, death, and hell. We’ve been saved by grace—we’re not worthy! With God’s help, we won’t get caught up in the chest-thumping, strutting spirit of the Pharisees “who were confident of their own righteousness” (Luke 18:9). In this sense, we will always be unworthy and look to Jesus for our righteousness.
And yet, Paul tells the Corinthians to observe the supper in a worthy manner (1 Corinthians 11:26). What does that mean? As the language suggests, it has to do with the way they took the meal rather than their status. They were to take it in a way that was consistent with Jesus’ sacrifice. For the Corinthians, that meant their failure to share the food they ate in a common meal before the supper (v. 21-22) disqualified them from participating in a Supper that proclaimed Christ’s selflessness in the giving of His body and blood for all! Paul said whatever they were doing when they took the emblems—they were not taking the Supper! (v. 20. “Discerning the body of Christ” (v. 29) had more to do than appreciating Christ’s sacrifice—it meant recognizing the brother or sister they were thumbing their noses at was part of Christ’s body. To eat worthily then, was to do it in a manner consistent with Christ’s loving sacrifice.
In the same way, being “worthy of His calling” means we live in a way or manner that is consistent with our salvation. We’ve been saved by grace—we live graciously. We were rescued by love—we live compassionately. We’ve been called by our Holy Father—we live as wholly His. When we live consistently on a consistent basis—that is maturity. This is what Paul is praying we will allow God to move us toward in our lives.
We pray for lots of things and that’s good. But to pray for the things the Scripture points us to—that’s even better. Someone said, “Powerful prayers are woven with God’s word.”
Discerning prayer produces deeper disciples.
Bruce has written a book on the model prayer called Praying in the Reign. It is available through 21st Century Christian.