Dear Christian: Where is Your Hope?
This has been a big discussion with some brothers in Christ and I, lately: do we put too much stock in this life? Do we worship comfort, success, and the blessing, instead of the God who gives each? Why do we say we would die for Christ, but have such a difficult time sharing Him with the world? Think about it, we have platforms in social media, but what do we use them for? Selfishly defending and justifying our selfish and self-centered choices and lifestyles. In the West, we complain about everything while we lack nothing, we participate in a culture of envy while we have everything we could possibly need. We won’t go 5 minutes to a church because someone slighted us once, or the carpet is the wrong color, or the temperature is too high/low. And, if things are not the way we want them, we complain, often and loudly, because our specific wants, wishes and desires are not met. So I have to ask another question: where is your hope?
Jesus did not live a life of comforts. He was born in to poverty, worked hard apprenticed to his step-father, Joseph, and when (presumably) Joseph died, it is likely He took care of his mother and siblings until He was old enough to teach according to the Law. When He began to teach, He had no home, the crowds followed Him from place to place, not because of His message, but because of what He could do for them, and, in the end, they turned on Him, 11 of his best friends abandoned Him, and one Betrayed Him. He was beaten beyond recognition, lied on in a kangaroo court, and finally nailed to a tree, while a murderer went free. What part of our Messiah’s life seems comfortable to you? This is why the author of Hebrews says “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” His joy was to do the will of the Father, which was to redeem a rebellious creation to Himself forever. He had hope beyond this life, and, if we truly follow Him, so should we! So I will put all my hope in Jesus and none of it in this life. Where is your hope? If it’s in anything but Jesus, you’re booking passage on a sinking ship. Romans 8:18-39
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.