“…these three remain: faith, hope and love…” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
There is a sad but real situation with most Christians today; and it is how we have become so comfortable in this world. How we seem to have lost all sense of direction and have begun to grapple the treasures of this world with the world.
Our spiritual lives have been reduced to a rollercoaster ride of rituals. We have become dizzy and confused, buying into any and every thing that flies around. Our passion and burden for souls is dead. Our desire for impact has been reduced to motions. Our love for God is lukewarm.
And looking at this, it is not hard to see one of the vital things that is lacking:
I’m not referring to that hope we talk about when we desire frivolous things: Oh, I hope it will rain. I hope you will be around. No, No. I’m talking about that great hope that is a song in the night of death. That hope that is water in the wilderness of our lives. That hope that is peace in the storms of life’s uncertainties. I’m referring to that deep, substantial hope that God gives.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
I think a lot of times, we have quoted and read this scripture without really understanding what it means. The hope that was spoken of in this scripture has been reduced to ephemeral, earthly things and yet if you look at the entire chapter 11 you’ll see that the hope had very little to do with the temporary and more to do with the eternal. Besides, hope that is seen really is no hope (Romans 8:34).
Loss of hope makes it so easy to sin because you don’t understand what you are running and fighting for. It will deprive you of guarding our heart because hey, what is the point? It will keep you from running for the cause of Christ with all zeal and earnestness because there’s no hope for an eternal reward. It will keep you from living life with a glowing fierceness because there is no greater picture looming in the heart (in the head, yes, but not in the heart). It will deprive you of faith in all its audacity and patient waiting because what is the use of faith if there is nothing hoped upon? Because faith draws hope and brings it to reality. But if there is nothing to be drawn [hope], then how can one have faith?
Do you hope for Christ and His coming kingdom? Or are you in fact more scared of hell than you are hopeful of His coming? Do you, in all eagerness hope to see the reign of the Kingdom of God? Do you hope in all fierceness and totality to see the face of God? Do you hope to receive the reward of your works and as such do it with all wholeheartedness? Do you truly hope for that glorious inheritance of the saints that Apostle Paul spoke about?
Or is what you have now a shadow? Is it more of a ‘Let’s just do this and see where it leads us’ kinda thing? Hope is not a what if, hope is a strong expectation of what you are sure is TRUE. Hope is the virtue that leans upon a future promise. Hope is sturdy. Hope purifies (1John 3:3). Hope is that blinding light that makes this world and all that it holds go strangely dim; the world loses its appeal.
It is this what if attitude that has made us become so worldly. Our worldliness may not be showy or that worldly wise sophistication that can be easily noticed, it may just be a desire for what is temporal more than the eternal. When we do things, is it usually for the short term or do we try to find God and His eternal purpose in the grand scheme of things? Our lives should be measured steps of eternal deliberation.
For example, if you want to get married, your mindset and vision should not be more in the sphere of how will I have a successful marriage with great kids than how will this person, this marriage, help me grasp the hope I’m pursuing which is namely Christ and His kingdom?
Now am I saying not to want these things? No! But to what end? For what purpose? Yes, you earn a six figure cheque, then what? It has to be more than that. You just have to read through the book of Ecclesiastes to realize the vanity of some of the things we break our heads for…observed by one of the richest, wisest men no less!
Throughout scripture, especially the New Testament, we see the message of hope. The early Christians were not necessarily rich and remarkable by the world’s standards but there was something they were pursuing. There was a depth that they carried that was beyond where they were. A carnal person who looks at them would wonder what was so desirous about their lives but there was a HOPE. There was a deep seated expectation in them that was irrespective of their physical circumstances.
This is a VITAL part of Christianity that I believe the devil has tried to steal from us. He has kept us from reaching for the eternal hope by flashing short sighted dreams and hopes in our faces. So we have now become more about how can I be great in life than how can I be great after this life? And just when we want to talk about living great lives, we focus more on how people will remember us when we are gone rather than what God thinks of us.
Even our spirituality has been limited to how we can get more out of this life than how we can be great in eternity. How we can get the best careers, have the best families and be better than our neighbours. And when we try to talk about eternity, we focus on the fear of eternal death than the living hope of eternal life.
Yet, it is when you have this hope that you can follow a consistent diligence to your spiritual growth and faith till the full assurance of your hope (Hebrews 6:11). It is then you can live your life with a consciousness that it does not end here, there is more. Then can you seek impact not just because it makes you feel fulfilled and important but because you’re shooting for something eternal. Then you will push for excellence in what you do because it advances the kingdom. It is then that your life becomes a deliberate living for something [someone] that is beyond what your eyes can see. It is then you can begin to see (inwardly) what you don’t see (physically). It is then that faith (true faith in God and not faith to receive things) can find expression.
It is an understanding, a deep seated awareness and reality that has to dawn on us. It is something that we have to seek for DELIBERATELY. How?
The Christian hope is not based on some wild expectation and desire, no. It is based on A PROMISE. So, to regain this lost hope, we must go back to the promise and the One who made it.
“So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.” (Hebrews 6:18 –NLT)
Our understanding of God’s faithfulness and His promises; the truth of His Word and the vow in His name, will cause hope to rise in our hearts (Hebrews 6:18). When we therefore study the Word of God, one of the things we should do is to note the promises God makes. Not selfishly but sincerely. What does He say about the future glory to be revealed? What does He say about the inheritance He has prepared? What is His promise for those who seek and chase after Him? And so on.
Also, it is important to return back to the place of our faith – Christ’s death and resurrection. It is here that hope was born. We need to daily live in the reality of His cross and life, fixing our eyes on Jesus. SETTING our minds on things above (Colossians 3:2).
Through it all, we must seek the face of God for this, for only His spirit can really give an assurance of hope.
Christ in me, the hope of glory!
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