Hope. It’s a word that’s loaded. In the midst of this pandemic, it can be hard to see or even get a glimpse of it. Or maybe, what we think we see isn’t it. Hope is not a naive wish or optimism that the future will just improve. At the other end of the spectrum, hope is not just some profane or deceptive idea to numb us to our very real struggles and pain. Hope, living with real hope as recognized in the Bible, is a profound trust that your present and future life is in and with God. That is what the Kingdom of God is: Hope.
Dallas Willard, in his book “The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God” makes the claim that the New Testament makes plain that this Kingdom of God that Jesus is always talking about is “not something to be ‘accepted’ now and enjoyed later, but something to be entered now (Matt. 5:20; 18:3; John 3:3, 5). It is something that already has flesh-and-blood citizens (John 18:36; Phil. 3:20) who have been transformed into it (Col. 1:13) and are fellow workers in it (Col. 4:11).” Our hope is not misguided, because Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection demonstrate the presence of this new reality, and is our invitation to align our lives with and in it.
So, the Kingdom of God is already present with the presence of Jesus, but not yet fully realized because God does not choose to override our freedom of will. Jesus entered human history through the life of an ordinary family. Then this extraordinary life offers something unexpected. He inaugurates us into an eternal kind of life right now, that flows through him. He does this first by bringing that life to bear upon our needs, then spreading it through our deeds – deeds done with expectation that he, his Father, and Holy Spirit will act with and in our actions. We are no longer alone, like Adam and Eve hiding and covering themselves in the garden. We can now become active citizens of God’s Kingdom. Reality as it can and should be.
Becoming a citizen of this Kingdom of Light, means that we can leave behind those dark and lonely places where we have made valiant yet vain attempts to merely survive and come into God’s healing, joyous, hope-filled light. This is a journey that we must all make. The good news is that you don’t have to make it alone. God is with you! Our church is with you, as we endeavor to be who we are called to be: the Body of Christ. Examples of these journeys from hopelessness to hope are all over the Bible. In the weeks to come, I will be preaching about these stories in a sermon series I am calling Road Trips of the Bible. Check us out on Facebook Live at 10:30 AM on Sundays and on our Zoom Bible Study and Check-in on Wednesdays at 7 PM to join the journey.
So, hope is not just another four-letter profanity that is some kind of cruel joke in our dark times. It is, as Andy Dufresne said in his letter to Red at the end of The Shawshank Redemption, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of the things. And a good thing never dies.” Indeed, our hope is alive in Jesus! And he is alive in us, to bring hope to a hopeless world! Let’s make it so.
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I'm a follower of Christ, husband, father, friend, pastor, story teller, asker of questions, inspired by biblical narratives, social justice advocate, sports enthusiast, drinker of over priced coffee and general seeker of God's redemptive possibilities. Yeah, that about covers it. (If you discover something else, let me know!)